Report writing can seem overwhelming. There’s so much information to process! And when you’re just learning how to write reports, it seems like each one is different.
The good news is that – when you have some experience – there are only four basic types of police reports. The even better news is that each one adds something to the previous type – sort of like going up a flight of stairs. So you’re not starting over with each new type of report – you’re building.
You can learn more about the four types of reports at this link. You can download a free handout here.
Type 4 reports are different because you, the officer, initiate the action. You saw or heard something suspicious and decided to intervene.
Your report has two important differences from most Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 reports:
- you weren’t dispatched to the scene
- you have to establish probable cause
These differences will affect the way you start your report. First, you have to establish why you were at that location. Second, you have to give a detailed and convincing justification for getting involved.
Phrases like “acting suspiciously” or “something wasn’t right” don’t work here. You have to describe what was unusual about the suspect’s appearance or behavior, or what struck you as out of place about the scene. Examples might include:
- you saw someone running down the street who kept looking behind himself
- you heard a scream
- you saw a light in an empty building
- you noticed that a woman was struggling to pull away from the man who was walking with her
You can read a sample Type 4 report here.