Practice Rewriting Police Reports

Here are online summaries of recent police reports. What changes would you make? Scroll down to read my comments.

1.  Heather Joy, Blakely Street, advised that her 6-year-old daughter struck her mother in the face and her mother smacked her daughter’s legs with a wooden back scratcher. The grandmother, Sandy Huff, advised officers she did try to hit her granddaughter on the posterior, but she kept rolling over and moving, causing her to strike the girl’s legs. Information was forwarded to the Juvenile Court.

2.  Johnny Snider, address not listed, advised that his wife, Amber Snider, 23, had been assaulted by a woman on Avondale Street when she went to get $5 that was owed her. The Avondale Street woman denied anyone touched Mrs. Snider.

3.  Lisa Morris, Sherwood Avenue, advised me that her husband started yelling at her and when she told him to get his stuff and move out, he slapped her several times, spit on her and knocked her to the ground. He left the scene but was not located by officers.

My comments:

  • Don’t use “advise” to mean “tell.” (When you go to a restaurant, do you advise the server what you want, or do you tell him?) Save “advise” for “gave advice” or “counseled.”
  • In #1 and #2, “she” and “her” are confusing because they jump back and forth between two females. Use names when necessary to avoid this confusion.
  • Several sentences are too long. Yes, you’re allowed to write long sentences! (They’re not run-ons.) But why write a report that’s hard to follow? Break long sentences into several shorter ones, and avoid using “and” to string sentences together.
  • The past tense of “spit” is “spat.”

Here are my rewrites:

1.  Heather Joy, Blakely Street, reported her 6-year-old daughter struck her mother in the face. Her mother smacked her daughter’s legs with a wooden back scratcher. The grandmother, Sandy Huff, told officers she did try to hit her granddaughter on the posterior. But the granddaughter kept rolling over and moving, causing the grandmother to strike the girl’s legs. Information was forwarded to the Juvenile Court. BETTER

2.  Johnny Snider, address not listed, reported his wife, Amber Snider, 23, had been assaulted by a woman on Avondale Street. Amber was trying to get $5 the woman owed her. The Avondale Street woman denied anyone touched Mrs. Snider.  BETTER

3.  This sentence is correct – but it would be easier to read (and write!) if you broke it up:

Lisa Morris, Sherwood Avenue, reported her husband started yelling at her. When she told him to get his stuff and move out, he slapped her several times, spat on her and knocked her to the ground. He left the scene but was not located by officers.  BETTER

To learn more about revising long sentences, click here.

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