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Suspect Description - Use a Form?
Answer by Dana Turner, BOL Guru
Guru Bios

My institution has discussed using a suspect description form to describe robbers and other offenders. Where can I go to get such a document -- and how should I train my employees to use it?

I always recommend that you get one from your local cops and duplicate it for internal use. It's best to use a form that your local cops are already familiar with and there's no copyright violation involved. The text you might consider for your training program is:

Teaching employees a simple, effective method for remembering a suspect's description helps those employees to remain calm and focused during the robbery (or any crime). It's natural and normal that witnesses' descriptions will vary -- no two persons' perceptions are identical. Begin remembering and describing a person from the top down -- from "head to toe". These are the most important factors to consider when an employee describes any person:

  1. Gender: This may not be obvious (e.g., male, female, unknown or disguised);
  2. Ethnicity: Describe a person's most readily-visible features instead of race (e.g., hair, nose, lips and skin color);
  3. Age: Use a range of 10 years (e.g., 35 - 45 years);
  4. Height: Use a range of 4 inches (e.g., 5'10" - 6'2");
  5. Weight: Use a range of 30 pounds (e.g., 150 - 180 lbs.);
  6. Hair color: Use a range of light to dark (e.g., dark blond to light brown); and
  7. Eye color: Use a range of light to dark (e.g., light-colored to dark-colored, unless you can actually determine the color).

First published on 1/29/07

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