Would You Be a Good Witness?

Most police officers will tell you that witnesses are critical to any investigation.

In today's day and age though, distractions are everywhere and we hit the streets to find out how closely people pay attention to what's going on around them.

Using a hidden camera, Stephanie Hoey, special projects manager for NBC Connecticut, stood outside several donut shops across the state and asked people for directions.

Would you remember what she looks like minutes after pointing her in the right direction? We stopped several people who didn't.

"I don't really remember. Her hair was short. I definitely have no idea what she was wearing though," Natalia Khandrs, of Norfolk, said.

Stephanie is about 5-feet 5-inches tall and has short red hair. She was wearing glasses, a gray jacket, black pants and a striking blue and silver necklace.

Very few people who remembered any of that.

"I have no idea. She was nice and young. Does that help?" Katherine Doyle, of West Hartford, said.

We didn't have much luck on the streets, so we decide to bring our little test inside at the NBC Connecticut studio.

In journalism, we pride ourselves on our ability to size up any situation and report every detail. In theory, we'd be great at this. So we thought.

Hoey introduced two friends during the station's morning meeting. The meeting is a gathering of producers, reporters and the news director.

After 10 minutes, Hoey and her guests left the meeting. We then barged in with cameras rolling and asked our co-workers to describe Hoey's guests.

"As a trained, professional journalist and a trained observer I can tell you that I remember practically nothing," Mike St. Peter, the NBC Connecticut News Director, said.

Neither did the 5 p.m. producer.

"I remember absolutely nothing," Brooke Rakowski said.

We had faith that reporter, Amy Parmenter, would redeem the newsroom.

"The man was taller than the woman. I thought that he had facial hair. She had long hair. She was kind of pale with marks on her skin and dangly earrings," Parmenter said.

It was a decent description, one Lt. Paul Vance, of the state police, says would help a police investigation.

"All the little bits of information might seem insignificant to a witness or person, but they can be important to solving criminal activity or crime," Vance said.

The best kind of description would include something distinct or unique about the suspect.

Even though no one in our story was witness to a crime, Lt. Vance says it's always important to pay attention to what’s happening around you. 

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