SA, and what LEO is looking for from a good witness

This is a discussion on SA, and what LEO is looking for from a good witness within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I was reading another post, and it got me thinking. I was thinking that most of the people on this forum probably have more SA ...

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Thread: SA, and what LEO is looking for from a good witness

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    SA, and what LEO is looking for from a good witness

    I was reading another post, and it got me thinking. I was thinking that most of the people on this forum probably have more SA than most of the sheeple out there. So anyway, I did a search for witness and didn't really find anything. I was just wondering if any of the LEO, former LEO, or anybody that had to provide a statement could provide some insight on what kind of information they are looking for and how much they really expect a witness to recall, so that if I ever do get in a situation where I need to provide a statement, maybe I'll be a little more help. I know, I might not think about it during a SHTF moment, but then, maybe I will. Also, I was wondering about how often a LEO gets a good statement from people(accurate information, details, etc) vs people not having any clue what happened...I would imagine you guys have tons of stories about conflicting statements and completely bogus statements even from people who are trying to help as much as possible.

    So to get it started...basics would be like...
    timeframe, how long whatever lasted, description of suspect as in, build, hair color, weight, height, how he was dressed, which direction he came from and left, anybody else around who might have seen more...I don't know...anything you guys can think of?
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    Most of the time, witness statements are pretty much worthless. The people are not credible, illiterate, or add things that didn’t happen, omit things that did happen.
    The worst ones are from the so called "sheep dogs" that try to be the best witness possible, but really just want to be a part of the action and don’t know squat about what happened. Dont be that person.
    I like to have a credible, reliable witness that reports his/her perspective of what happened... nothing more, nothing less.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Dont be that person.
    I don't plan to.

    I just figured LEO might recieve some training or guidance on what to pay attention to during situations so that they can provide an accurate report after the incident. That's kind of what I was looking for.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

    http://miscmusings.townhall.com/

    Who is John Galt?

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    LE reports aren't a whole lot different than the general public's. When the feces hit the oscillator, 99.99% of people experience sensory exclusion and/or mild hallucination (ie, seeing a gun that's really a stolen beef jerky- a bit of exaggeration, but not much.)

    Talk to 5 people experiencing the same "critical incident", and you'll always have 5 different accounts,sometimes radically different.

    Note what you can, don't over-analyze what you think you saw, and relay accordingly. Things you are certain of, state; if you aren't sure or what you saw doesn't make sense, relay the way you perceived the event, prefacing with "I think..."

    My perspective is a bit different (EMS) where a detailed traumatic history can give clues as to severity of injury, undiagnosed injuries, etc.. Different, but similar to crime-scene investigation.

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    Member Array soundwave's Avatar
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    I refer you to here to find out what to watch out for.

    But I'm with SIXTO on this... Everybody has a different perception of what's going on, especially after the fact. The reason why it's preferred to contact 911 during the incident is because there is a strong likelihood that the information you give us will be more accurate. Reason? You have less time to "imagine" what happened, to evaluate and rationalize what you saw and why they did it. When you're "in the moment" you are more likely to report exactly what you're seeing or hearing because you don't have time to process it yet.

    LEOs and dispatchers get trained to pay attention to details, kind of like making a quick mental image of what it is. Most people are not able to give a detailed description of something without prompting. Most people in an incident say, a driveby, would say this car came zooming down the street and started shooting. Great, but we probably already know that, though... That's why we showed up.

    Taking the same situation we would ask more pointed questions. What color was the car? Was it a big, medium or small car? Do you know what kind of make/model/year it looks like? Did the car have anything customized on it? Window tint? Custom rims? Bumper stickers? Did you see the people when their windows went down? What did they look like? How many of them were there? Which direction did they go when they left? Did you see the license plate? I could go on forever and I'm very sure a LEO responding to such an incident would ask the same questions.

    My advice would be to call 911 when you see something rather than waiting around for a LEO to show up. Actually, I would advise that you call 911 while you are seeing something. It's not just the reason about giving more accurate information, the information you can give can help us catch people responsible or send the appropriate amount of units (LEO, fire, EMS).

    In the case of the driveby above, they don't just go down to the end of the block and disappear, they are still driving around. If you call as you're seeing the car go down the street right after they are shooting you can tell me which direction they went. If I get a call from someone down the block saying a speeding car just turned down another street, I can pass all that information to the units as they are responding and makes it much more likely these guys will be caught. To take it further, if a group of people in a car go to a gas station to get gas and look suspicious, then the clerk calls me about it, they match the description of the driveby car, guess what we just found?

    Cheers.
    "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms; history shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected people to carry arms have prepared their own fall." Adolf Hitler

  7. #6
    Senior Member Array Sergeant Mac's Avatar
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    Unique identifiers are always nice.

    License plate numbers are more valuable than a vehicle description. Given a choice between "about a 1995 red Ford Escort 2-door" and "a red car with license number 9-A576", I'd take the second one any day.

    Likewise, words in a tattoo are more useful than simply reporting that the suspect had tattoos.

    Shoes can be a better identifying article of clothing than any other, since they're not as easy to ditch as a jacket or hat.

    Direction of travel is good, too, if the suspect left the area.

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    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    Soundwave is our best tool...things the victims tell the dispatcher are usually much more accurate than what we get in the field after the folks have had time to calm down and make sure their stories are straight. A personally involved victim will usually twist the story enough around just to make it hard to write a concise report that will stand up to scrutiny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BerneyG View Post
    I don't plan to.

    I just figured LEO might recieve some training or guidance on what to pay attention to during situations so that they can provide an accurate report after the incident. That's kind of what I was looking for.

    Oh, OK. When I read "report", I was thinking written statement. I didnt mean to imply thats what you intended to do, but sometimes people do just that and dont intend to or mean any harm. They want to be helpful, but only add to all the garbage that we need to wade through to get to a few pieces of good info.

    I'll second everything the others have said so far. Soundwave hit it from a dispatchers point of view, and depending on the incident, that can be the most important view.
    Sgt. Mac hit it from the LEO's view. Keep it simple.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    What, Where, Why, and How. That's it. Don't let fear or influences get in your way. Focus on detail, especially the small ones like Sarge said above. Keep your thoughts straight and consistent. Don't try to imagine something that didn't exist, event though you'd like it to have been. It's harder in a small town, since there is a likelihood that you may be aware of the BG, and are afraid of retaliation. If you have a pen and paper, write down all your observations. Memory goes quick in some circumstances.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting that link..I searched for 'good witness' but for some reason that one didn't show up...or maybe I just didn't get that far back. I actually was referring to a written report. I had a lot of training in the Navy for reporting emergencies to EOS and the watch officer so that they could know exactly what was going on in as few words as possible. The 911 call I don't believe would be a concern. The posting that got me thinking of this was where a guy saw a road rage incident where guns were pulled. His manager was already on the phone with 911, and he and a co-worker were watching it happen from inside a restaurant. His friend had seen the entire incident so he didn't stay to give a report to any LEO that showed up. I was just thinking with most of the people here, their SA is a little higher than most people and that we might be able to provide details that his co-worker might have missed. So, I was kind of thinking that situation, or one where you are directly involved and not able to be talking to the dispatcher at the time(I know, hopefully you've already called 911 and the phone is in your pocket, but if you are really in a life or death situation where you have to defend yourself, you might not be able to call 911).
    I'm surprised about Rob's comments that LE reports aren't much more accurate than the general publics...I didn't figure that would be true. I figured precincts would stress 'accurate recall' in those types of situations to be able to provide an accurate report. Well, thanks anyway.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

    http://miscmusings.townhall.com/

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerneyG View Post
    I'm surprised about Rob's comments that LE reports aren't much more accurate than the general publics...I didn't figure that would be true. I figured precincts would stress 'accurate recall' in those types of situations to be able to provide an accurate report. Well, thanks anyway.
    I would preface that by saying its true for those involved in an "emergent situation"- again, everyone focuses on and expects different things to happen. Our expectations influence what we see. If there was a report of a robbery, and a PA went out for those with info, ME (mostly second-, some first-hand) is that you will get better info from Responders.

    Something like Mac alludes to: "Yeah, I saw the guy, something just seemed hinky. He had tats on his knuckles, "Love" and "Mama", right and left." An individual may not be doing anything when observed, but Responders are more likely to file those tidbits, since fast recognition of individuals "out of their social context" increases survivability.

    If someone just got shot, and there's a chase, even the best are Charlie Foxtrots.

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob72 View Post
    LE reports aren't a whole lot different than the general public's. When the feces hit the oscillator,

    .
    True. Some of the worst reports I have read have been police affidavits. Some cops write great reports, some cops don't. Much like the rest of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmhawth View Post
    True. Some of the worst reports I have read have been police affidavits. Some cops write great reports, some cops don't. Much like the rest of us.
    Go figure.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    In the hit and run that totaled out my bike, I did not get anything other than color, make and model (I was more intent on having a talk with the driver of the vehicle and what I thought of his driving abilities). I did have 7 people that came up that saw the whole darn thing, they all started talking about it and "No, it was blah blah".

    I yelled "Shut up! Please, you all saw the same thing happen from different angles, do not talk about it with each other, please wait for the police. You will change your story because someone else said something different that what you saw. If anything, if someone has some paper and pens/pencils/eye liner, write it down now."

    That was the one big thing that I picked up in my LP training week. If a crime has been committed (the context was a robbery), isolate the witnesses and if possible, get them to write down what they saw ASAP.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Here's a great article on the eyewitness problem... the same experiment has been done several times. In this particular experiment, 580 out of 600 witnesses even got it wrong about *who had the gun*!!

    LOL "I saw it with my own eyes!"

    I think when a situation occurs you need to be focused on simple identifying features. In the situation above, the witnesses were able to write down what they saw immediately after the event, and they were still staggeringly wrong.

    I say... Focus on the basics in such a situation. Description of individuals and cars as accurately as possible. It's a lame answer, I know.

    A generally higher SA is always going to help. I would imagine that if the experiment in the link above was carried out with members of the forum that the results would be significantly different, because the SA of the members here is likely much higher than an average crowd.
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.

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