What to Omit from a Police Report

There’s an intriguing topic! Officers often worry (and rightly so) about leaving something important out of a report. But it’s also true that some things don’t belong in a report. Here are some examples:

  • Opinions (Because of Mrs. Brown’s age, I knew she might not have heard the noise outside)
  • Thoughts (I decided the suspect had probably exited through the bedroom window)
  • Generalizations (Foster seemed confused)
  • Hunches (Officer Collins agreed with me that the witness was probably lying)
  • Passive voice unless you’re describing an action by an unknown person
    Clark was questioned by me (unnecessary passive – avoid)
    I questioned Clark (better)
    A wallet and a diamond ring were taken (acceptable passive – you don’t know who took them)
  • Jargon (Mirandized,” “Baker acted,” “this officer,” “I processed the area”)
    Better:  I took him into custody and began Baker Act proceedings
    Better: I read him his rights from my Miranda card
    Better: I examined the front and back doors. I found pry marks by the outside door handle on the back door.
  • Unnecessary repetition
    You don’t need to write down everything you said when you’re questioning a witness or a suspect. Omit “Then I asked him,” “I followed up with,” “My next question was.”
    Compare these two versions:


    I asked what time she got home from work. She said 5:20 p.m. I asked what happened. She said she noticed the open window and got worried. I asked if she was sure it had been closed when she left that morning. She said yes, she was sure it had been closed. REPETITIOUS

    I asked what happened. She said she got home from work at 5:20 p.m. She saw the open window and got worried. She was sure it had been closed when she left that morning. BETTER

A concise and objective report saves time and shows off your professionalism. Make it your goal to write an excellent report every time.

 

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One thought on “What to Omit from a Police Report

  1. Flgal

    I strongly agreed with your points about how people could made very serious errors in their judgements toward people who are from diversity of cultures. What they need is a diversity cultures training to test their judgements before going on field! Without understanding of their own bias early on, justice will not be served as the end!

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