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How to Describe a Suspect

To capture a criminal in these highly mobile times, it is of utmost importance for the police to promptly obtain an accurate description. Following are some of the most important identifiers the police need to apprehend criminal suspects. Keep this information in mind so that you can give the police an accurate description of any criminal or criminal incident you may observe.


Location information is critical:

bulletObserve where you are and the exact location of the crime. Try to remember if you have ever seen the suspect in the area before.
bulletNote the time as precisely as possible.
bulletObserve if the suspect is carrying a weapon and, if so, what type-revolver, handgun, shotgun, knife, etc.
bulletIf the suspect leaves the scene, note the direction of flight.
bulletIf the suspect is in a vehicle, note as much of the following information as possible: vehicle type (auto, truck, van, etc.); color; make and model; condition (dirty, damaged, etc.); and license plate numbers.
Note also if the vehicle has no license plates or a "license applied for" sticker in the rear windshield.
bulletWatch for decoys or accomplices.


A variety of general description information about the suspect should be noted:

bulletRace or national origin
bulletAge (estimated)
bulletHeight-use comparisons with your own height, a door, or some other standard measure
bulletWeight (estimated)
bulletBuild-fat, husky, slim, muscular, etc.


Facial information is also important:

bulletHair-note the color, texture, hairline, style; also possible dyes or wigs
bulletForehead-note forehead height, and whether the skin is smooth, creased or wrinkled
bulletEyes-note the color, shape (round, slanted), whether clear or bloodshot, and the heaviness of eyelashes and eyebrows
bulletNose-overall shape (long, wide, flat, etc.) and nostrils (wide, narrow, flared) are important
bulletCheeks-is the flesh sunken, filled out, dried or oily? are there wrinkles around nose or mouth? are cheek bones high or low, wide or narrow?
bulletEars-note size and prominence (protruding or flat against head)
bulletMouth-are lips thin, medium, full? do corners turn up, turn down, or level?
bulletChin-what is the shape (round, oval, pointed, square)? double chin, dimpled, cleft?
bulletNeck-note protruding Adam's apple or hanging jowls
bulletComplexion-note pores, pockmarks, acne, razor rash, bumps
bulletFacial hair-clean shaven? unshaven? beard, mustache, goatee, sideburns?
bulletTattoos-shape and style; on what part of the body


Clothing information is also very important:

bulletHat-note color, style, ornaments, how it is worn (bill forward, backward, to one side)
bulletCoat-note color and style (suit coat, jacket, topcoat, overcoat)
bulletShirt/Blouse/Dress-note color, design, sleeves, collar
bulletTrousers/Slacks/Skirt-note color, style, cuffs
bulletSocks-note color, pattern, length
bulletShoes-note color, style, brand name for sneakers (if possible), condition
bulletAccessories-sweater, scarf, gloves, necktie
bulletJewelry-rings, watches, bracelets, necklaces
bulletGeneral appearance-neat or sloppy? clean or dirty?
bulletOddities-look for clothing too large or too small; odd colors; patchwork


Look for other physical features or peculiarities:

bulletVoice-pitch, tone, rasp, lisp
bulletSpeech-articulate, uneducated, accent, use of slang
bulletGait-slow, fast, limp


You will never be able to remember all of these details about any one suspect you may see. But remembering as many as possible can be particularly helpful to the police and to your community.


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