Sheriff Dan Houston Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff Dan Houston
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department
INFORMATION ON HOW TO BE A USEFUL WITNESS
If you are a victim or witness to a crime, your observations can be very useful to Law Enforcement and
can lead to faster case resolutions. Being a good witness can also help Law Enforcement close the
“gaps” in cases that may be unsolvable without outside information. Unfortunately most people are not
good witnesses simply because they do not know what information is important to remember and they
are not exactly sure what to do immediately following the witnessing of a crime. Below please find some
bullet points to help you become a better witness:
If you witness a crime NEVER get involved – Your health, life and safety are worth more than
any piece of information. Remember suspects become hostile easily and sometimes aggressive.
Never try to apprehend a suspect “for” the police.
Call 911 in emergency situations such as violent assault/battery, vehicle accidents with injuries
or possible injuries, child safety issues, robberies, or armed subjects.
Be calm - a Dispatcher will lead you through the necessary information needed to generate a
Law Enforcement response.
o GIVE YOUR LOCATION
o SUSPECT DESCRIPTION – RACE, SEX, APPROXIMATE AGE, CLOTHING DESCRIPTIONS
OR COLORS ARE VERY IMPORTANT - GLASSES, HATS, TATTOOS IF VISIBLE –
NOTICIBLE DISABILITIES – ACCENTS
o VEHICLE DESCRIPTIONS – MAKE AND MODEL OF CAR IF KNOWN – COLOR – LICENSE
PLATE OR PARTIAL PLATE – ANY UNUSUAL DECORATIONS/RIMS/TIRES/DECALS OR
STICKERS THAT ARE VISIBLE.
o SUSPECT/VEHICLE – DIRECTIONS OF TRAVEL – WHETHER ON FOOT OR IN VEHICLES
o NOTIFY IMMEDIATELY IF WEAPONS ARE SEEN – IMPLIED OR THREATENED
o ACCESSORIES/ACCOMPLICES – DID SUSPECT CARRY ANYTHING – WERE OTHER
PERSONS PRESENT – WAS ANYTHING DROPPED OR LEFT AT THE SCENE?
If you have general information that does not warrant a 911 call, please call the local County Dispatch
office at 798-7000. Again a Dispatcher will ask a series of questions that will “walk” you through the
information needed. If you have time, take notes about what you have witnessed before calling
Dispatch. The sooner the information is received the better Law Enforcement will be able to deal with
the situation.
Don’t talk to other witnesses – information becomes cloudy and unreliable if shared and
discussed with multiple persons before relaying to Law Enforcement.
Eyewitness testimony can be crucial in some cases – but can also be used to exonerate persons.
Eyewitness’s can help eliminate and also create suspicion in court hearings. Please be clear about what
you have seen and heard when providing witness information. Always leave a contact number with
either the Dispatcher or Deputy if clarification issues may arise. Remember criminals do not live in a
vacuum – they live, work, and conduct their daily activities in our communities. If they are
“comfortable” in our neighborhoods – they will continue to commit their crimes there. Chances are you
may come into contact with this person in the future or have in the past. If at any time you make a
connection regarding something you have witnessed – please notify Law Enforcement.
Become active in Neighborhood Watch
Be active in school PTA’s
Be wary of who is in your neighborhoods – who should be there and who shouldn’t
Take note of unusual persons or occurrences –THEY MAY BE IMPORTANT LATER
IMPORTANT NUMBERS
EMERGENCY CALLS - 911
SHERIFF’S DISPATCH (NON EMERGENCY) 505-798-7000
EAST AREA COMMAND CENTER 505-281-1400
CRIMESTOPPERS – 843-STOP
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