How Many Words Do You Need?

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is back in the news. After a two-year-absence from professional football, there’s talk that he might return to the NFL. (You can read more here.)

Manziel’s time with the Browns was marred by personal problems, and eventually he sought treatment in a rehab center. One difficulty was an alleged domestic incident in 2016. According to Manziel’s ex-girlfriend, he threatened to kill her and end his own life. Because she was unwilling to file charges, he was never arrested.

You can read the story and police report hereThe report is detailed, professional, and worth a look, especially if you’re an officer who writes reports about domestic incidents.

There’s another reason why you might want to read the report: to develop an eye for unnecessary words. Take a look at the excerpts below. Can you find any words that could be omitted? (My comments appear below each one, in blue.)

At this time, Colleen reported that Johnathan began xxxx and aggressive towards her.

[Omit at this time. Be specific: “aggressive” might not hold up in court. Did Manziel ball his fists, shout threats, kick, or hit?]

Colleen and Johnathan arrived back at her apartment located at 2101 Park Hill Dr some time in the early morning hours but Colleen informed that she does not have an approximate idea of what time it was.

[Colleen and Johnathan returned to her apartment at 2101 Park Hill Drive. She didn’t remember what time it was.]

Officers asked Colleen if there was any further assault that occurred once they were back at her apartment in Fort Worth and she began to become irritated with officer’s questioning.

[Be specific: how did she show her irritation? If she spoke to them angrily, what did she say? The first part of this sentence can be simplified: Colleen would not say if there was another assault at her apartment.]

Colleen did not know the address where Johnathan’s parents reside.

[Colleen did know where Johnathan’s parents live.]

Police officers are busy men and women. Police reports should be thorough but efficient. Don’t clog your reports with unnecessary words!

Johnny Manziel at Browns training camp



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