When a police officer or unit receives the call over the police communications system that there has been a report of an armed robbery in progress, the first thing he or she, and his or her colleagues in other units responding to the call, does is prepare mentally for the possibility of a violent confrontation. Assuming the units arrive while the crime is still in progress – and in most instances the distant sounds of sirens are sufficient to send the criminal into flight, the first step is to quickly and accurately assess the situation. If the crime is still in progress, whether it evolves into a hostage situation dictates whether the responding officers have the time to make a thorough assessment, including interviewing on-scene witnesses. If it has not evolved into a hostage situation, then the first arriving officers make a quick determination of the situation, using their own observations. In the event there happens to be a bystander nearby, the officer will pull him or aside and conduct an impromptu interview, but the opportunities to conduct interviews in the midst of a “code 3” call do not always avail themselves.
If the armed robbery occurred prior to the arrival of the responding units, then all potential witnesses will be interviewed as expeditiously as possible, keeping them separate (assuming more than one) to protect the integrity of the process (in effect, prevent potential witnesses from influencing each other’s statements). Obviously, the victim is the first to be interviewed, assuming no life-threatening injury sustained in the course of the robbery necessitating the immediate rendering of medical assistance, which can preclude an interview until the victim is well-enough to provide a statement. Securing the crime scene, depending upon the nature of the robbery – i.e., was a convenience or liquor store robbed, or was it a mugging of an individual on the street? – takes high priority, but commencement of interviews of victim(s) and witnesses is a high priority and commences as soon as possible.