SPECIAL REPORT: Eyewitness Test
Updated: Thursday, May 2 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
COLUMBUS (Steve Levine/Ken Hines) -- Most people are already aware of the important roles eyewitnesses often play in the capture of wanted criminals. But ABC 6/FOX 28 wanted to know: what should a good witness remember about potential suspects in order to provide good information to police?
Witness accounts helped nab Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1995, and crowd cell phone and surveillance photos put the spotlight on the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects this year.
ABC 6/FOX 28 put a class of criminology students at Columbus State to the eyewitness test, to see if they made the grade when it comes to identifying a bad guy -- and to make sure you know what to do if you ever come face-to-face with a criminal.
While the majority of the class was able to remember that our “suspect” was wearing a black ball cap and hoodie, they were all over the place when it came to his height, weight, and facial descriptions.
“That’s what we typically see, former FBI agent Harry Trombitas said. "When we get descriptions, people see different pieces of information."
Trombitas said it's important that witnesses are able to provide detailed descriptions of suspects. Witnesses should concentrate primarily on facial features, height, and weight, while also paying close attention to the suspect's clothing.
Trombitas said many witnesses forget certain articles of clothing worn by suspects during, or immediately after, they commit crimes.
“Pants and shoes [are] good things to focus on,” said Trombitas, “I have yet to see a naked robber run down the street.”
Watch Steve Levine's report on ABC 6 News at 11.