Being a Reliable Eye Witness

By Silver Sentinel
To become a reliable eye witness, an aspiring field operator should practice developing skills in providing quick, accurate descriptions. When attempting to describe events, vehicles, or persons, write down the details of what you have observed while they are still fresh in your mind, so your descriptions to law enforcement officials will be as accurate as possible.
When describing events, write down:
• What happened;
• When it happened;
• Where it occurred (note the nearest cross street, home address, or landmark in relationship to the event);
• Whether injuries are involved (Be prepared to report visible or suspected personal injury. Be as specific as possible – this could save a life!);
• Whether weapons are involved (this information, whether observed or suspected, is vital to responding officers).
When describing vehicles, write down:
• Vehicle license number and state, make and type of vehicle, color, and approximate age;
• Special designs or unusual features, such as vinyl top, mag wheels, body damage, pinstripes, etc.;
• Direction of travel.
In preparing descriptions of persons, it is important to write down the following:
• Sex;
• Race;
• Age;
• Height (estimated from eye contact level measured against your height);
• Weight;
• Hair (color and length);
• Hat;
• Facial Hair (beard/mustache);
• Shirt/tie;
• Coat/jacket;
• Trousers/pants/shorts;
• Shoes;
• Any peculiar or distinguishable mannerisms, physical disabilities, dis-figurations, scars or tattoos;
• Voice characteristics;
• Direction of movement.
A good article on mis-identification of suspects can be found at; “Reliable witness identification of suspects”
Try your hand at an on-line Observation Skills Test here; “Observation Skill Test Video.”
Learn how to practice Improving your Observational Skills here; “How to Increase Your Observational Skills”