SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Every week on Crime Files we show you photographs of criminals the Springfield Police are looking for, but what if a crime happened right in front of you?
Would you be able to provide police with an accurate description of the suspect?
ABC40 put some unsuspecting diners at Tower Square to the test.
During the lunch hour rush, we sent a ‘suspect’ into the dining hall where he staged a very loud, emotional phone conversation that caught the attention of more than a dozen patrons.
Leaving the scene, we waited a few minutes to approach several people who witnessed the scene and asked them what the person looked like.
Our intent was to see how well the average person could describe our ‘suspect.’ You can see the results by watching the video above.
“Being an eyewitness is one of the hardest things to do.” Springfield Police Sergeant John Delaney says. “Because not only do you have to remember the person immediately after the crime, but six or seven months down the road on the witness stand.”
Police say when a crime happens, the first thing they do is separate the witnesses. Reason being, a dominant witness in the group may influence another person’s account of what happened.
Once interviews are completed, police decipher what is the ‘medium’ description of the suspect(s). Police say people usually pick up on the same characteristics; if the person is wearing glasses, has a beard, is tall or short.
“Those things usually stand out to people.” Sgt. Delaney says. “It’s the small peculiarities about people… whether the guy has a limp, or what shoes he has on… a lot of people miss those.”
Sgt. Delaney says to be a better eye-witness you need to always be aware of your surroundings and if you ever are witness to a crime, take a mental note about what’s happening.
It doesn’t matter how small it is. It may prove important in the long run.