Today’s topic is efficiency. Bear with me for a moment while I make a detour to talk about Dennis the Menace! Hank Ketcham based this delightful comic strip on his real-life family: wife Alice and son Dennis.
But Ketcham made one change when he created the strip. Although the real Alice was a brunette, Ketcham drew her as a blonde. The reason? In a black-and-white comic strip, brunettes require ink, but blondes don’t. Ketcham saved himself hours and hours of labor because he didn’t have to color Alice’s hair.
I found myself thinking about Hank Ketcham’s pen while I was reading a police report about a bizarre case involving a drug dealer. A Florida man called police to report the theft of cash and a small bag of cocaine. He immediately told police he was a drug dealer, and of course he was arrested. (The investigating officer saw another plastic bag of white powder in the car, and it turned out to be cocaine.) You can read the complete report here.
So what’s the connection to Hank Ketcham? Here it is: This report (which is excellent, by the way – be sure to read it) substitutes Your Affiant for the simple words I and me no less than seven times.
I’m assuming that’s the agency’s policy, and I’m wondering why. I’m also wondering if anyone there has thought about much time is wasted over a year writing “Your Affiant” – 11 letters – instead of “I” – one letter.
Here’s an example:
At that time Your Affiant was able to place hand restraints on Blackmon.
I placed hand restraints on Blackmon.
Those unnecessary words add up to a lot of wasted time! Here’s another example:
Based on the aforementioned information…
Why not just say “Based on this information”?
Efficiency is hugely important in a busy police agency. As you think about local policies and your own reports, you should always be looking for ways to eliminate time-wasting words and expressions.