Crime is an unfortunate reality of daily life. When law enforcement investigates crimes, it is often a good witness that can make or break a case. What does it mean to be a good witness?
A good witness is a solid, reliable, citizen that is willing to step forward when he or she observes a criminal act and provides information to law enforcement to help bring responsible parties to justice.
The following are a few things that make a good witness: A good witness has the courage to step forward providing law enforcement officers with the answers to the questions “who, what, when, where, why and how.”
Does this mean to be a good witness you must have the answers to all the listed questions? No, not at all. The witness may not have all the answers to the listed types of questions, but that is okay. An accurate answer to one question is more helpful than four incorrect answers, which could lead the investigation astray.
A good witness reports crime in a timely fashion. If you think you have witnessed a criminal act, please report it as quickly as possible. This gives law enforcement officers the best chance to locate possible suspects as well as additional witnesses in the area.
Also, a good witness resists the temptation to yell out to the perpetrator, “I’m going call the police!” It only ensures that the suspect will be long gone when law enforcement arrives.
As a witness, please keep in mind that you are not law enforcement and you should leave the apprehension of suspects to law enforcement. Chasing a criminal suspect places your life and the lives of others in danger and could even lead to criminal or civil lawsuits being filed against you.
I want to thank all the good citizens of Oakdale who take pride in our city. This is a lovely town to live in but we need the help of its citizens to keep it that way. I urge each and every one of you to do as much as you can to keep our great city safe. By stepping forward and doing what is right, you provide a voice to those citizens who are afraid to take action.
Cop Corner is a monthly column provided by officers of the Oakdale Police Department, offering a variety of information and safety tips.