How to Be a Good Witness

posted Apr 14, 2011, 7:46 PM by Ronnie V   [ updated Aug 14, 2012, 12:43 PM ]
Quick, you’ve just witnessed a hit-and-run, suspected drunk driver or spotted a suspicious character in your neighborhood. You frantically call 9-1-1, and the operator starts asking you questions about your location, a description of the vehicle or suspect including license plate number, make, model and year of vehicle, body style (sedan, coupe, etc), how many people were in the vehicle, what were their races and ages, what direction were they traveling, what mile marker are you near, height and weight of the suspect, hair color, garment color and description, color of shoes, facial hair, etc.. Aaaack!

Would you be ready to answer those questions? Have you trained your brain to notate these kinds of details? Have you thought through potential emergency scenarios and which details might be important?

Just yesterday we posted on our Facebook page about a neighbor who witnessed a bike theft and was able to contact police with a detailed description of the perp. Today the Minnesota State Patrol released a video of drunk drivers caught on camera and asked for the public’s help in reporting suspected drunk drivers.

This visual aid from the City of Minneapolis website Crime Prevention page can help you train your brain to note the details of people and vehicles. TIP: You can practice in everyday life by challenging yourself to describe the person that just passed you on the parkway, or trying to recall the details of a vehicle you just glimpsed in your alley.

Link to larger image

More tips from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office for making 9-1-1 calls.

Try this police sketch simulator from America's Most Wanted then post your score on our Facebook page.