Knowing how to classify police reports is an important skill for law enforcement officers. When a scenario occurs, you can save time (and avoid errors) by deciding whether the situation calls for a Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, or Type 4 police report. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll know what special features are needed and – just as important – what potential pitfalls to avoid.
Let’s try it. Read a news story about Philip Standefer, a police officer in Lubbock, Texas, who saved a driver’s life through quick thinking. Then watch the video below. (It’s only 47 seconds long.) What kind of report would you write: Type 1, 2, 3, or 4?
Answer: This situation calls for a Type 3 report (and a commendation for Officer Standefer!). What’s special about Type 3 reports is that you, the officer, become part of the story. (In Type 1 and Type 2 reports, the events happened before you arrived.)
Type 3 reports require special care because you’re dealing with two stories – before and after. Don’t make this complicated for yourself.
Part of Officer Standefer’s report might look like this (my version is incomplete because news reports didn’t finish the story):
At approximately 1:19 am on September 17, I, Philip Standefer, was standing at the 3700 block of 19th Street talking to a driver about a traffic accident.
I saw a flower van heading north on 19th Street at high speed. It crossed the median. I saw that Sarah Beaty, 19, was standing in the path of the vehicle. I pushed her away.
Sarah fell onto the road. The van crashed into a patrol car, which then hit another patrol car. I was pinned between both cars….
Notice that an effective police report sticks to the facts. Omit your thinking processes (“I suspected the driver was intoxicated,” “I was afraid the car would injure Sarah”).