Don’t guess; tell dispatch what you know.

Do say:  There are three people living in the apartment.  The suspect’s bedroom is the second door on the left down the hall.  He keeps a bat between his bed and the wall.  Don’t say:  There might be weapons in the house.  We go into every house thinking there’s a knife in every drawer, a gun under every pillow, and a homicidal maniac behind every door.

Do say:  I’m concerned about the welfare of my neighbor’s daughter.  She spends a lot of time in my house, always has new bruises, and doesn’t like to go home.  Don’t say:  I’m pretty sure my neighbor beats her kid.  My kids are always hurt.  They have their own room in the ER.  Jumping off the roof on to a mini trampoline that’s in the middle of a big trampoline was the safest thing they did all day.  Six more trips to the hospital and we get a wing named after us.

Do say:  I saw a man looking into car windows in the parking lot and I don’t recognize him.  He had something in his hand.  Don’t say:  He might have a gun.  He also might have a screwdriver, or a cell phone, or a mackerel.  I’m not going to stroll up to him with my hands in my pockets, blowing a world record bubble because you failed to mention he might be dangerous.

We couldn’t do our job as effectively without a lot of help from concerned citizens.  Don’t stop being suspicious, don’t stop peeking through the blinds, and don’t stop calling for help.  Just tell us what you saw and what you know.  Let us make the assumptions, and let us do the investigation.

When I say don’t stop peeking through the blinds, I mean your blinds.

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