Caleb Brantley

On April 13, former Florida defensive tackle and NFL Draft hopeful Caleb Brantley made the news in an unusual way. He was slapped in the face by a woman who was angry because he refused to sleep with her. Police in Gainesville, Florida investigated the incident and corroborated Brantley’s story. He decided not to press charges.

You can read the story and the incident report here. Several features impressed me:

  • The officer filed the report even though there were no charges. Not all officers are such sticklers about paperwork.
  • The report is written in plain English
  • Most sentences are short and straightforward
  • The officer used normal everyday words for speaking: said, admitted, and spoke rather than the jargonish advised

And there’s one more detail that impressed me. Here’s part of a sentence from the report (I shortened it to save time). See if you can figure out what I liked about it:

He used to sleep with one of Austin’s friends.

Here it is: the officer spelled used to correctly. Many writers – unfortunately – forget that d at the end: used to.

One detail that puzzled me was the omission of names and phone numbers for witnesses questioned by police – but perhaps there’s a reason the agency didn’t require that information.

Gainesville is – of course – a university town, and I suspect the officer who wrote the report is a college graduate. It’s worth reading and imitating. Well done!

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2 thoughts on “Caleb Brantley

  1. Michael Olbert

    I enjoyed reading you article however, your last statement about the officer probably being a college graduate does not hold much credence with me.

    I am a retired police officer with 25 years of report writing experience and currently work as a school safety officer for a large public school district. I receive numerous reports and statements written by teachers every day. All of these educators have college degrees ranging from bachelors to doctorates and many of their written reports are substandard examples of written competency.

    I admit, I do not have a college degree and so maybe I am not a credible critic however, their written statements rarely include the basic who, what, where, etc… This makes my job as an investigator of facts very difficult. Most of the time I need to re-explore the situation because their statements are incomplete or lack enough information to get a clear picture of what happened.

    Unfortunately, just because someone holds a college degree or degrees, they are not necessarily well educated, well spoken or well written.

    Reply
  2. Jean Post author

    You’re right that “college degree” does not automatically mean “better policing”! But college graduates do write better sentences. I was a college professor for 30+ years and worked primarily with freshmen, so I’m very familiar with the kind of growth that’s typical of college students. The vigor and clarity of the sentences in this report look to me like the work of a college graduate.

    Reply

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