I‘ve been toying with the idea of offering a cash prize to anyone who could find a police report that used active voice in the disposition (the part of the report near the end that explains what happened to the suspect and the evidence). I can’t afford much, but maybe a $5 bill would inspire an officer to write the disposition correctly, for once – using active voice.
I read lots of reports, and – count on it – no matter how good the writer is, I know I’m going to read a @#$%! sentence like this near the end:
The evidence was logged in to the Evidence Room. PASSIVE VOICE
The suspect was transported to the County Jail. PASSIVE VOICE
An ambulance was called to take the suspect to to Meadowbrook Hospital.
It seems that hardly anyone ever bothers to mention who logged in the evidence, drove the patrol car with the suspect inside, or called for the ambulance.
Passive voice is…dumb. Why on earth would a police report omit the identity of the person who performed an important action? But officers do it every day.
I’m happy to announce, however, that I’ve won my own cash prize. A couple of minutes ago I came across this sentence in a report (an excellent one, by the way) about NFL free agent Montee Ball, who’s been arrested for battery in a domestic abuse case. Eureka: It tells you who drove Ball to jail!
I transported Ball in the rear of my patrol car to the Dane County Jail. ACTIVE VOICE
I’m putting a $5 bill into my wallet.