It Happened at McDonald’s

On July 1, a Florida man threw packets of sweet-and-sour sauce at a woman in a Tampa McDonald’s. You can read about the incident and view the police report at this link: http://thesmokinggun.com/documents/stupid/arrested-for-mcdonalds-condiment-battery-719052

The report is thorough and objective. The officer recorded exactly what happened in detail.

But up-to-date writing methods would make the report more efficient and professional. Here’s a portion for you to read. What changes would you make?

At the above location I made contact with the Victim who advised they were involved in a physical altercation with the Defendant/father of their child. The Victim advised the Defendant became angry with them when they bought the wrong food from McDonalds. The Victim advised a verbal argument ensued in which the Defendant began striking them with sweet and sour sauce packets in the head and face area.

Here are my comments:

  • “At the above location” is inefficient and doesn’t add anything useful
  • Don’t use “advised” when you mean told or said. Here’s one reason why: when you read “The Victim advised the Defendant….” it sounds as if she was counseling him. But what she’s really doing is telling her story. It would be better to write “She told me that Ferrer….”
  • Use names, not Victim and Defendant
  • Use plain words: “argument” (not verbal argument) and “fight” (not “physical fight”)
  • A list would be more efficient. Writing “The Defendant advised” over and over just wastes time without adding anything useful.

Here’s my version.

I met with the victim. She told me:

  • Jesus Oscar Ferrer is the father of her child
  • She bought the wrong food from McDonald’s
  • Ferrer struck her head and face with sweet-and-sour sauce packets
  • She grabbed his beard
  • Ferrer pinned her to the ground, placed his palm on her face, and pressed her head into the ground
  • She ripped off a chunk of his beard
  • He let her go and fled

I saw bruises and scratches on her face and head.

The original police report uses 152 words to record this information. But the list requires only 82 words – a great saving of time and energy for a busy police officer. (If you do the math, my version is 46% shorter.)

Many police agencies are making efficient police reports a priority. Is your agency encouraging officers to make every word count when they write a report?

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