An Assault with a High-Heeled Shoe

On September 13, police were called to a bikini contest in Stuart, Florida, to investigate a crime involving a high-heeled shoe. One of the contestants claimed that another contestant assaulted her with a shoe. You can read the police report at this link: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/florida/case-dropped-against-accused-bikini-brawler-809324

Overall this is a well-written report. Today I’m going to recommend two changes in one of the paragraphs. Read it yourself to see if you can spot the changes:

Shipley yanked on her arm trying to take her down to the ground. Mize stated she could not get her to leave her alone so she pushed her away. Mize advised when she swung her arm her shoes hit Shipley but did not know where they made contact with her. Mize then ran to her mother because she did not want to fight.

My comments:

 1.  This officer is trying too hard to be sophisticated: Mize stated, Mize advised. Police reports should be straightforward and efficient. Just use said. (If you open up a newspaper, you’ll see that every quote begins with “said.” There’s never any variation, even though “said” may be used thousands of times each day.)

What officers should never do is substitute advise for said. Advise means “counsel” or “suggest.” Trying to make advise mean “said” sets up your report for confusion – and makes a bad impression on anyone outside law enforcement who reads your report. (“Huh? The officer doesn’t know what advise means?”)

2.  She and her are tricky words when there are two women in a sentence:

Mize stated she could not get her to leave her alone so she pushed her away.

I would repeat the names to eliminate any chance for confusion:

Mize stated she could not get Shipley to stop. So Mize pushed Shipley away.

I have one more suggestion. When all the information comes from one person, use a simple list:

Shipley yanked on her arm trying to take her down to the ground. Mize said:

  • She could not get Shipley to leave her alone
  • Mize pushed Shipley away
  • When Mize swung her arm, her shoes hit Shipley
  • Mize did not know where they made contact with Shipley
  • Mize ran to her mother because she did not want to fight

 

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