Here are more examples of outdated police jargon and confusing expressions you should avoid in your reports. (Click here to see the previous list.)
This old-fashioned, time-wasting word needs to be stored permanently in the attic. Use “this” or, better yet, repeat the name or information.
The abovementioned suspect is now in custody. WRONG
Langford is now in custody. CORRECT
Advise refers to giving advice. If you use it that way, advise is a fine word. But don’t use it as a synonym for “tell.”
I advised her to seek medical attention for the cut on her arm. CORRECT
I advised her that I would be returning the next day. WRONG
I told her that I would be returning the next day. CORRECT
Affect is a useful verb meaning “to change.” [Much less commonly it’s also a noun that means emotion.] So why should you avoid affect? Two reasons.
First is the risk of confusing affect and effect. Why take a chance? If you mean change, that’s the word you should write.
I couldn’t affect his decision, so I stopped arguing. RISKY
I couldn’t change his decision, so I stopped arguing. SAFER
A more serious problem with affect is that it’s vague. It’s better to choose a word that indicates whether the change was for the better or the worse.
The new schedule affected morale. VAGUE
The new schedule improved morale. BETTER
Rainy days always affect my mood. VAGUE
Rainy days always make me feel gloomy. BETTER
Never use this clumsy expression. Use because instead.
[Incidentally, being is a perfectly good word that can, however, gum up a sentence. Use it with care.]
I smelled alcohol on his breath
A defense attorney can get you on this one. Alcohol is odorless and tasteless. Say that you smelled “alcoholic beverage” on his breath.
Vague. Use home, condominium, apartment, mobile home.
blue in color
Professional writers avoid wasting time with empty words. “In color” doesn’t add anything, so don’t use it.
The suspect was wearing a shirt that was blue in color. EMPTY WORDS
The suspect was wearing a blue shirt. BETTER
the month of September
Same problem. When is September not a month?
They were married in the month of September. EMPTY WORDS
They were married in September. BETTER