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  1. #1
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    Need advice on a good Police report should look like

    Ok so I am only a reserve but still law enforcement. Anyway I am trying to learn what I can to jump in to full time and I was wondering if some experienced professionals could point me in the right direction

  2. #2
    Awesome cool guy extreme
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    It should be simple and tell the facts. tell it like a story in the order the events took place starting with how you became involved in the incident. Don't try to over complicate it with big words or sounding like the old dragnet reports. You want an avg person, with no LE experience to be able to read it one time and get a good visual picture of what actually happened. that's it. The biggest things that make bad police reports are spelling, grammar, sentence structure and ofcrs assuming people can fill in the blanks on their own. If you don't leave room for assumptions to be made then people can't really question what you wrote.
    Originally Posted by VegasMetro
    maybe it’s me but I think a six pack and midget porn makes for good times?????

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    Is there any were online that I could go to see some properly written reports to just see a few bad and good ones?

  4. #4
    Awesome cool guy extreme
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    Not that i know of, police reports are public record though. You need not worry about the reports now, if you go full time they'll have a TO smash it into your brain.
    Originally Posted by VegasMetro
    maybe it’s me but I think a six pack and midget porn makes for good times?????

  5. #5
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    A good reports looks exactly like what your TO or SGT wants.

  6. #6
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    Keep it simple. They did a study not too long ago showing that the average education for a jury member was the 9th grade. Scary. So, write as if a 8th grader could read it. No big words, don't be confusing, and keep it in a chronological order.

    It never hurts to have a co-worker proof-read your report before turning it in. A second set of eyes can save you trouble in the court room. Defense attorney's love to pick apart a report based on grammar and spelling. Try to stay away from he and she. If there are several people in the report, this can be confusing as to who he or she is.

    Good Luck

  7. #7
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    Go to your records dept. and pull copies of different types of reports written by Training Officers.

  8. #8
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    Unless your agency policy requires it; do NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS, and do not tell the story in the third person.
    I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.

    Douglas MacArthur

  9. #9
    POlice Offasa
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    One mistake I have noticed of my co-workers, is that they don't write enough. You don't have to write a novel but remember, if its not in the report, then it didn't happen.

    Also, be careful how you word things. Defense attorneys use officers own wording to make them look stupid and discredit them. For example, if you are doing a dui report and you write;

    "The driver ran the red light. I effected a traffic stop, and after approaching the driver I could smell alcohol."

    How does a person "run" a red light? What does alcohol smell like?
    "To punish and enslave"

  10. #10
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    Great advice so far, and all very true.

    When I used to do training in the military, my standard was the report should completely explain the situation to someone with no knowledge of what happened.
    For every one hundred men you send us,
    Ten should not even be here.
    Eighty are nothing but targets.
    Nine of them are real fighters;
    We are lucky to have them, they the battle make.
    Ah, but the one. One of them is a warrior.
    And he will bring the others back.

  11. #11
    coulda been a contendere
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    Not sure if I can post here, as I am a law enforcement professional (I'm an Assistant District Attorney) but not a cop. If I am wrong in posting here, please let me know...

    However, to write a good police report, here is what you do:

    1) Tell the story. Coherently, with as little jargon and as much detail as possible. Like you are talking to someone who just woke up from a coma (assume your reader has no context, but basic ability to understand).

    2) Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?-- Include witness names, street names, descriptions of wounds, weapons, damage to property etc... all of the stuff you probably wouldn't remember the next day, because the DA will ask.

    3)

    Get a look at the District Attorney's charge book-- there are elements to each offense. Your report should contain a sentence containing the facts supporting each element of each offense you charge. (If you PM me, I'll be happy to help you out in getting a charge book.) For the first few times, just make a list of your citations before you turn in your report and make sure that you can ID your justification for that citation in your report.

    4) Common sense has no place in a courtroom. Make sure that any conclusions or inferences you draw are explained in your report and backed up by fact.

    5) Please make it easy to read: spell check, use punctuation and paragraphs, and DON'T USE ALL CAPS!!! If you hand write, please use a good ball point pen and write as clearly as possible.

    For samples of reports, try http://www.thesmokinggun.com/ (its also fun to read). Also, FBI reports are a good model to follow, check out their FOIA site http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/foiaindex.htm

    Hope this helps,
    Nolo

  12. #12
    POlice Offasa
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolo View Post
    Not sure if I can post here, as I am a law enforcement professional (I'm an Assistant District Attorney) but not a cop. If I am wrong in posting here, please let me know...

    However, to write a good police report, here is what you do:

    1) Tell the story. Coherently, with as little jargon and as much detail as possible. Like you are talking to someone who just woke up from a coma (assume your reader has no context, but basic ability to understand).

    2) Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?-- Include witness names, street names, descriptions of wounds, weapons, damage to property etc... all of the stuff you probably wouldn't remember the next day, because the DA will ask.

    3)

    Get a look at the District Attorney's charge book-- there are elements to each offense. Your report should contain a sentence containing the facts supporting each element of each offense you charge. (If you PM me, I'll be happy to help you out in getting a charge book.) For the first few times, just make a list of your citations before you turn in your report and make sure that you can ID your justification for that citation in your report.

    4) Common sense has no place in a courtroom. Make sure that any conclusions or inferences you draw are explained in your report and backed up by fact.

    5) Please make it easy to read: spell check, use punctuation and paragraphs, and DON'T USE ALL CAPS!!! If you hand write, please use a good ball point pen and write as clearly as possible.

    For samples of reports, try http://www.thesmokinggun.com/ (its also fun to read). Also, FBI reports are a good model to follow, check out their FOIA site http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/foiaindex.htm

    Hope this helps,
    Nolo
    +1

    I would say your input is very helpful afterall, the report ultimately stops at your desk. I am sure that you have seen your fair share of horrible reports.

    You did mention something that was stressed upon in my academy....elements. The elements of a crime must be in the report in order for there to be a crime. I have read a few reports that seem to have everything but.
    "To punish and enslave"

  13. #13
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    Buy a copy of "The Elements of Style". Read it at least three times.

    Pay attention to Nolo, he's your real audience.

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    Remember......if It Isnt In The Report, It Never Happened!

  15. #15
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    All good advice, I agree keep it simple, short and to the point. More often when you are new you want to include anything and everything. Just include the uts of what happened.

  16. #16
    I'm watching your six
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seventy2002 View Post
    Buy a copy of "The Elements of Style". Read it at least three times.

    Pay attention to Nolo, he's your real audience.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Nolo a woman?

    Otherwise I agree 100% with the above!
    Those who stand for nothing often fall for anything.

  17. #17
    I C U b4 U C Me

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    Tell the:

    WHO
    WHAT
    WHEN
    WHERE
    WHY
    & HOW

    That should be the basis of a good report.
    Last edited by stealth600; 04-15-2008 at 09:48 PM. Reason: .spelling

  18. #18
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    Incident reports should be narrative form, chronological and objective documentation of an incident. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How are the questions you should be looking to answer. Most of the time one or more of these will be missing. There are two schools of thought to incident reporting. One is that your original report includes everything from start to finish. The second is that you do a brief face sheet and include everything else in a supplemental report. This varies by department. I personally start all of my incident reports with the same format...

    On DATE at TIME I was dispatched to LOCATION in reference to a report of INCIDENT TITLE. Upon my arrival, I met with REPORTING PARTY. REPORTING PARTY stated REPORTING PARTY'S STATEMENT. In this paragraph, I try to include verbiage that details the appropriate criminal charge if applicable. I will also bullet out property (makes, models, serial numbers, and values) if the incident is a theft call.

    2ND PARAGRAPH CONSISTS OF FIELD INVESTIGATION, (What I saw on arrival, suspected point of entry, injuries, witness/suspect interviews, latent print processing, evidence collection, photographs, etc).

    3RD PARAGRAPH IS FINAL ACTIONS (Arrest, Mediation, Recommendations for victim, etc).


    Next, I include all names and phone numbers for follow-up.

    Bob Smith
    123-456-7890

    Jane Doe
    456-789-1230

    Lastly is my electronic signature.
    Ofc Joe Blow #1546
    Last edited by miked6; 06-10-2008 at 12:53 PM.
    "Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most. " --Dwight K Schrute (The Office)

  19. #19
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    Nolo gave EXCELLENT advice. You don't have to be the best writer to write a good report.

    Type in format of something that will allow spell check.
    Break it into paragraphs.
    Don't type in all caps.
    Cover the basics of who, what, when, why and how in the order in which they happened.

    I realize that everyone has a specific style, but I have never referred to people as Victim 1, victim 2 or suspect 2 or RP (reporting party) all the way through the report. As they are included in the report I might assign a title of victim, witness or suspect but I use their NAME.


    EX:

    On 06/10/2008 at approximately 0800 hours I responded to such and such reference larceny of checks. Upon arrival I met with the victim, Jane Dough. Dough advised....

    I don't call her "victim" throughout the report....for a couple of reasons...1) she has a name 2) it's annoying to read 3) other people keep having to go back and figure out who V1, V2, S1, W1 are. When using names, use the same one. Don't use first one time and then last names later.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  20. #20
    damode
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    Your name is actually Joe Blow?



    Quote Originally Posted by miked6 View Post
    Incident reports should be narrative form, chronological and objective documentation of an incident. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How are the questions you should be looking to answer. Most of the time one or more of these will be missing. There are two schools of thought to incident reporting. One is that your original report includes everything from start to finish. The second is that you do a brief face sheet and include everything else in a supplemental report. This varies by department. I personally start all of my incident reports with the same format...

    On DATE at TIME I was dispatched to LOCATION in reference to a report of INCIDENT TITLE. Upon my arrival, I met with REPORTING PARTY. REPORTING PARTY stated REPORTING PARTY'S STATEMENT. In this paragraph, I try to include verbiage that details the appropriate criminal charge if applicable. I will also bullet out property (makes, models, serial numbers, and values) if the incident is a theft call.

    2ND PARAGRAPH CONSISTS OF FIELD INVESTIGATION, (What I saw on arrival, suspected point of entry, injuries, witness/suspect interviews, latent print processing, evidence collection, photographs, etc).

    3RD PARAGRAPH IS FINAL ACTIONS (Arrest, Mediation, Recommendations for victim, etc).


    Next, I include all names and phone numbers for follow-up.

    Bob Smith
    123-456-7890

    Jane Doe
    456-789-1230

    Lastly is my electronic signature.
    Ofc Joe Blow #1546

  21. #21
    Half Way to AARP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    I realize that everyone has a specific style, but I have never referred to people as Victim 1, victim 2 or suspect 2 or RP (reporting party) all the way through the report. As they are included in the report I might assign a title of victim, witness or suspect but I use their NAME.
    +1 Smurfette. The only addition I'll make is that I use their title, as well.

    EX:

    On DATE at TIME I was dispatched to ADDRESS in reference to an assault. Upon my arrival, I met with the victim, Jane Doe. Ms. Doe stated that she was hit repeatedly by the suspect, John Dough. [Add details of stuff].

    I made contact with Mr. Dough, who stated he struck Ms. Doe with a corn stalk because she tripped over a frog. Mr. Dough told me that he was unable to provide the frog with CPR, so he took his anger out on Ms. Doe.

    Mr. Dough was ordered to place his hands behind his back etc.
    For me, at least, it seems a little more respectful instead of using just their last name throughout the report.

  22. #22
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    I field Train new officers, their reports generally suck,, this is the book I use to teach out of and I have have reccomended it as part of our academy training to enhance officers initial report writing training. I have bought a read a lot of books on report wrting and this is by far one of the BEST, and it really simplifies the process. It incldues lists of commonly misspelled and misused words, as well as a bunch of tests and some examples.

    The guy who wrote it is a former Detective, currently an Attorney ( i think prosecutor) as well as a Police Academy instructor.

    Good luck.

    http://bookstore.lexis.com/bookstore/product/50515.html

  23. #23
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    "Saw drunk, arrested same" -JD Buck Savage
    NE Firearms Instructor

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    Glock Armorer

    Nice guy, bald though

  24. #24
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    The average jury around here DO have about a 9th-12th grade education... but I don't write my reports for the jury, I write my reports for the judge (including good ol' fashioned po-leece words like nystagmus, orbital sway, and what not). The reason for that is because the jury never sees the report (I talk in trial to their level), but the judge does.

    Talk around with the guys and find out who they thing writes a good report, and look at theirs.

  25. #25
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    Reporting things here
    in the UK is certainly becoming more confusing, appraently the prosecution authorities don't like all the big words we use / fancy grammar as they read the same words all the time.!!

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