The Beto O’Rourke Police Report

Beto O’Rourke is a Texas Democrat who’s running against incumbent senator Ted Cruz in the November election. In 1998, when O’Rourke was 26, he was arrested for drunk driving and trying to leave the scene of an accident. That accident has become an issue in the senatorial campaign.

You can learn more and read the police report at this link.

I always encourage officers to read actual reports with a critical eye. What does the report do well? Is there anything that could have been written differently?

Here’s an excerpt from the Beto O’ Rourke report for you to read and think about. My comments are below.

I met with the reporter who said he was traveling west bound on I-10 and observed a black in color Volvo traveling the same direction at a high rate of speed. The driver then lost control of the vehicle and struck a truck traveling the same direction sending the defendants vehicle across the center median and pointing eastbound. The driver attempted to leave the accident but was stopped by the reporter. It was then determined after a brief interview that the defendant/driver was intoxicated. The defendant was then transported the El Paso Police West side Sub Station Where he was given the Breath Test, subject failed.

My comments:

1.  Overall, it’s an excellent report: concise, objective, professional. There are a few capital letter issues, probably because the officer had a limited amount of time for writing.

2.  To make the report more efficient, I would have used bullet style:

I met with the reporter, who said he was traveling west bound on I-10. He saw a black Volvo traveling fast in the same direction.

The reporter told me the following:

  • the driver lost control of the vehicle
  • it struck a truck traveling the same direction
  • it crossed the center median and pointed eastbound
  • the driver tried to leave the accident 
  • the reporter stopped him

2.  The report would be more likely to hold up in court if there was specific evidence that O’Rourke was intoxicated:

It was then determined after a brief interview that the defendant/driver was intoxicated.  VAGUE

I smelled liquor on the driver’s breath. When I asked his name, his speech was slurred.  SPECIFIC

3. The report omits two important pieces of information: who drove the defendant to the substation, and who administered the breath test. That information could be important if there’s a court hearing later, and the judge wants to ask questions about the trip to the substation or the breath test:

The defendant was then transported the El Paso Police West side Sub Station Where he was given the Breath Test, subject failed.  PASSIVE VOICE

Officer Jones transported O’Rourke to the El Paso Police West Side Substation and administered the breath test, which O’Rourke failed.  ACTIVE VOICE

4. “Black in color” is wordy and unnecessary. Just say “a black Volvo.”

Seal of the US Senate

 

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