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Partners. National Sheriffs’ Association Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Observation Skills. Neighborhood Watch Community Training. Observation Skills. Course Objectives Participants will: Learn the importance of being observant

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Partners l.jpg

National Sheriffs’ Association

Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

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Observation Skills

Neighborhood Watch

Community Training

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Observation Skills

Course Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn the importance of being observant

  • Learn observation skills that can be employed in Neighborhood Watch

  • Understand that observation is the first step in reporting incidents or suspicious activities relating to criminal activity or terrorism

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Observation Skills

What to observe:

  • Physical setting

    • Specific location, time of day, day of week

  • People

    • What do they look like? How are they acting? How many of them?

  • Specific Items

    • What are they important?

  • Routines

    • Did you notice any reoccurring patterns or routines? How often did they occur? Who was involved?

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Observation Skills

Answer the following questions regarding the previous picture:

  • Were there cars parked on both sides of the road?

  • About how many cars were in the picture?

  • Was anyone hurt?

  • What color was the suspect vehicle?

  • Was there a minivan?

  • What type of damage was there to the vehicle?

  • How many officers were in the picture?

  • How many occupants were in the vehicle and what did they look like?

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How to observe people and vehicles

  • Stay calm and remain alert to your surroundings

  • Begin with the basics

  • Move to specifics

  • Broaden your perspective

  • Add details

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Begin with the Basics - People

  • Gender

  • Race

  • Age

  • Number of individuals involved

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Move to specifics - People

  • Height

  • Weight

  • Clothing

    • Hat

    • Shirt

    • Pants

    • Shoes

  • Hair and eye color

  • Facial hair

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Broaden your perspective - People

  • What other events are occurring?

  • Who else is affected?

  • What is the overall situation?

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Add details - People

  • Vehicles

  • Witnesses

  • Location

  • Direction of travel

  • Outcome of the incident

    • Individuals injured or killed

    • Damage caused

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Begin with the Basics - Vehicle

  • Make

    • Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, VW, Volvo, Lexus, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes

  • Model

    • Maxima, Caprice, Navigator, Cutlass, Escape, Accord

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Move to specifics - Vehicle

  • Body style

    • 2 door

    • 4 door

    • Hatchback

    • Convertible

    • Four wheel drive

  • Color

  • Overall appearance

    • Clean, dirty, primer marks

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Add details - Vehicle

  • Damage

  • Bumper stickers

  • Signs or lettering

  • Phone numbers

  • Company logos

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Improving your observation skills

  • Be patient and take your time

  • Pay attention to your surroundings

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Improving your observation skills

  • Note the environment

  • Observe the entire scene

  • Be aware of people’s reactions

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Artwork Activity

What did it look like?

Was that a dog?

I can't think?

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Observation Skills

Answer the following questions:

  • Approximately how old was the man in the yellow shirt standing on the right side of the tree?

  • What color was the van?

  • What obvious suspicious activity should be reported?

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Post-Observation Actions

  • If possible, write down your observations as soon as possible

  • Record the date and time

  • If activities appear to be unusual, suspicious or illegal, call for assistance and take the appropriate action according to your agency’s policies and procedures

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  • What to observe

  • Filtering

  • How to observe

    • People

    • Vehicles

  • Improving your skills

  • “Just the Facts”

  • Post-observation actions

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