Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Baseball’s spring training season is underway! Today I’m going to use a police report about a 2013 baseball game to make a point about facts and opinions.

First I need to remind you that police writing has its own special requirements. The dull, short sentences that your English teacher complained about are ideal for a police report:

I saw a baseball bat propped near the kitchen door.

Lacey Collins was trembling when she answered the door.

I’m about to send you to read a police report that really is fun. First, though, you have to promise not to imitate the style, which clearly won’t work in a real police report.

Ready? Click here to read a wonderful account of a Blue Jays baseball game that included an unauthorized walk-on by an overenthusiastic fan.

Why am I encouraging you to read a police report that doesn’t meet the requirements for criminal justice writing? To make an important point. If you spotted the words and phrases that don’t belong in the report, you’ve just proved that you’re a true professional.

Let’s look at one of the paragraphs in this report. Can you see where the officer stopped reporting and started commenting?Blue Jays

 Problem wording includes “surprisingly,” “underrated,” “hapless,” and the background information about the Jays’ prospects this season. In addition, the suggestion that we can “almost forgive” the fan clearly doesn’t belong in a report.

Let’s rewrite the report to make it more professional. Here’s a suggested revision:

On May 5, 2013 at approximately 3:18 pm, a Toronto Blue Jays fan, Joe Smith, left his seat at level 100 and ran onto the baseball field. I arrested him and transported him to 52 Division. He was released on a Form 10/11.1.

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