Thinking about a Police Report

Writing a police report requires some complex thinking skills. Here’s an opportunity to practice those skills.

 Read the summary below and make a list of issues you might think about as you prepare to write your report. When you’re finished, compare your ideas with my list (below).

A 19-year-old woman stopped at the flashing red light at Shaffer Road and Bee Line Highway. Then she pulled into the intersection into the path of vehicle driven by a 73-year-old man that she didn’t see. The two vehicles collided and caused severe damage. A passenger in the  man’s vehicle was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Here’s my list:

  • This is a Type 2 report (the officer didn’t see the incident happen and needs to conduct an investigation).
  • Sources are needed for some of the information. How do you know that she really did stop at the traffic signal and that she didn’t see the other vehicle?
  • How are you going to document the damage to the vehicles? “Severe damage” is probably too vague for a police report. You might list some of the effects of the accident or use your cell phone to photograph the vehicles.

One more point: Writing in passive voice (“was taken to the hospital”) is a bad habit that many officers struggle to overcome. If there’s a court hearing later on, it might be important to know who transported the passenger.

Develop the habit of using active voice (“Officer Traneski transported the passenger to the hospital”) in every sentence.

How did you do?

Accident report application form and human hand with ballpoint pen.

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