A Police Report and an Election

Jeff Greene is a candidate in the upcoming Florida primary that will determine the Democratic candidate for governor. A five-year-old incident report about Greene has just come to light about an incident at a beach resort.

Greene was in a restaurant with his family. The music was too loud. To get a server’s attention, Greene “smacked her on the arm.” The waitress said she was not injured, she did not believe Greene intended to hurt her, and she wasn’t interested in having the case prosecuted. (But she did say she was “very offended,” and she later quit her job.)

You can read the story here: https://miami.cbslocal.com/2018/08/09/five-year-old-police-report-surfaces-against-greene/

Here are some comments from me:

1. This is a well-written report with excellent sentence structure. It’s objective and thorough. Clearly the officer knows which information is important and useful.

2.  The opening sentence is unnecessary:

On Monday, 011413, at approximately 1600 hours, I responded to the Police station regarding a report of delayed assault that occurred in December Of 2012.

There are spaces on the first page of the report for the date, time, and location.  Repeating those facts is a leftover from the days when officers used plain paper to write their reports. Officers are busy and shouldn’t be asked to record that information twice.

3.  Other repetition in the report can also be eliminated. There’s no need to repeat “I asked” – “she said”:

I asked her if there were any witnesses and she said yes, that information was documented with the hotel. I asked her if she wanted to prosecute and she said “No.” 

Here’s my version:

She told me there were witnesses, and that information was documented with the hotel. She said she didn’t want to prosecute.

4.  There’s wordiness in the last paragraph, along with passive voice.

She requested a police report for the purpose of documenting the incident. She was issued a courtesy card with a case number for her records. 

For the purpose of is wordy – just use “to.” She was issued doesn’t document who provided the courtesy card.

It’s puzzling that some police agencies – despite emphasizing completeness in police reports – don’t insist that officers record who made the arrest, read the Miranda card, drove the patrol car, provided a victims’ brochure, and so on in the disposition part of a report. That information could become an issue if there’s a court case, and a judge might want to know who performed those actions.

Here’s my version: 

She requested a police report to document the incident. I gave her a courtesy card with a case number for her records.

One final point: this incident is a useful reminder that any report can become a news story years later!

Picture of Jeff Greene

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