Tips for Type 4 Reports

A few days ago someone confessed to me that she continued to find Type 4 reports confusing. What, she wanted to know, makes a Type 4 report different? And how does that difference affect the way the report is written?

Good questions!

Type 4 reports are different because you, the officer, initiate the action. You saw or heard something suspicious and decided to intervene.

Your report has two important differences from most Type 1, 2, and 3 reports:

  • you weren’t dispatched to the scene
  • you have to establish probable cause

These differences will affect the way you start your report. First, you have to establish why you were at that location. Second, you have to give a detailed and convincing justification for getting involved.

Phrases like “acting suspiciously” or “something wasn’t right” don’t work here. You have to describe what was unusual about the suspect’s appearance or behavior, or what struck you as out of place about the scene. Examples might include:

  • you saw someone running down the street who kept looking behind himself
  • you heard a scream
  • you saw a light in an empty building
  • you noticed that a woman was struggling to pull away from the  man who was walking with her

(To learn more about Type 4 reports, click here.)


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