Bruce Maxwell is a catcher for the Oakland A’s. On October 28, 2017, he was arrested at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona on a felony charge of aggravated assault. He allegedly pointed a firearm at a female food delivery driver. Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., have released 20 pages of reports. You can read about the arrest here.
Today we’re going to look at an excerpt from one paragraph in the report. An officer at the scene questioned Wallace about what happened. If you were the officer’s supervisor, what advice would you give him (or her) about writing future reports? (My answer to that question appears below.)
I informed him police were called to his unit due to him pointing a handgun at a delivery person. I asked him if he had ordered food to be delivered and he stated he did but stated he had “cancelled” the order and was not expecting it to be delivered. I asked him if he had any weapons (specifically guns) and he stated he had a Sig Sauer 9mm subcompact handgun and another A5 caliber handgun inside his apartment. He stated he had a “concealed carry permit” and was allowed to carry his guns. He admitted basing the 9mm handgun holstered on his hip when he came to the door….I asked if he pointed the gun as it was alleged he did and he now became verbally aggressive and stated he should have never been detained. He began making anti-police statements and utilized excessive profanity.
This is a thorough and professional report that could, however, be improved. My concern would be inefficiency. There are many unnecessary words – a waste of the officer’s time, and a problem for everyone else who read about the arrest (media reporters, district attorney, defense attorney, etc.)
I would recommend listing the facts in Wallace’s statement, like this:
When I questioned Wallace, he told me the following:
– he had ordered food to be delivered
– he had cancelled the order and was not expecting it to be delivered
– he had a Sig Sauer 9mm subcompact handgun and another A5 caliber handgun inside his apartment
– he had a concealed carry permit and was allowed to carry his guns.
And so on. Other parts of the report would not be in list format, of course.
Another problem is that the two final sentences lack objectivity (“…he now became verbally aggressive and stated he should have never been detained. He began making anti-police statements and utilized excessive profanity”).
The officer should have written Wallace’s exact words instead of stating an opinion – that Wallace was “verbally aggressive” and using “excessive profanity.” What if Wallace’s attorney argues that Wallace’s language was a normal response to the stress of the situation? If the report stated exactly what Wallace had said, it would be obvious that Wallace was aggressive and out of line.