I'm sure the first thing that comes to mind is personal safety. In the course of investigating UFOs, we as Field Investigators come into contact with the public on a regular basis. As an ethical, conscientious investigator, we are all to go into each situation with an open mind, and no preconceptions about the witness. This isn't always easy to do, especially when a witness is less than honest.
It would be foolish for me to imply that every witness has a sterling character. That just isn't the case. Unfortunately the subject of UFOs has been so infiltrated by everything from agents of disinformation, to reports from people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia or other delusions, that we have to be able to sift through them and distinguish which cases are credible. And of course, the ones that aren't are the cases that you want to be especially careful with your personal information on.
Of course there is also an element of danger if one is doing an in-person interview of a witness. I would recommend never doing this alone, under any circumstances. Besides the fact that you need a second person to observe things that you might miss during the questioning, there is always safety in numbers!
Of even more importance is the safety of the witness. At all times one must endeavor to keep all personal information about the witness private. It is never okay to give out a witness's address or phone number to anyone, and that is especially true if the witness wishes to remain anonymous. Protecting the identity of the witness should be a top concern. Just suppose someone from the defence industry decided to make a report with you, and in your excitement you write about it and give all kinds of details that make it easy to piece together who the witness was. Then the next day you read in the newspaper that your witness was found with five knives in his back, a rope around his neck, and a suicide note. You'd probably feel a little bit responsible! Not very good for the witness, but who says the perpetrators would stop there...they'd likely come after you next. So always exercise caution with the information you are given.
Another item that needs to be considered, is the finished report. I would recommend a very secure location, such as a safe or locking cabinet for storing your completed reports. If your home were to be broken into, it would not be wise to have witness information lying around where anyone can access it. It is full of private information still, even though the case has been concluded. You should also make sure that any reports are not easily accessible on your computer. Always protect your files with a password. That way you can assure the safety of the witness as well.
I could write a whole issue just on safety in the field, so I'm not going to cover that within this issue. In the meantime, keep in mind that common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone's garden, so always be on your guard!
I hope this installment is helpful, and that some of you reexamine your safety protocols to make sure that both you, and your witnesses stay safey.