A Meat-and-Potatoes Police Report

Today I’m going to look at a recent police report that could use an update. In a moment I’ll explain how to write it in 2019 style – and why that’s a good idea.

On July 25, a Florida woman punched her partner in the face and then spat at him. You can read the story and the police report here: http://thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/meat-potatoes-battery-675291

Here are selections from the police report:

On the listed date and time the defendant Carroll Kimberly, did violate. F.S.S 784.03-1A1 committing the offense of simple battery (Domestic Related) within Manatee County, FL. I was dispatched to the scene of a domestic incident. Upon arrival the victim was alleging that following occurred with Carroll Kimberly, his girlfriend of five years.  The victim alleges that the defendant was arguing with him about bow be cut the meat and potatoes for their dinner. The verbal altercation escalated when the defendant struck the victim in the face with a closed fist one time….

The defendant was placed under arrest and transported to the Manatee County jail without incident.
The victim was asked “Do you have any information or views you wish to be expressed to the court?” in which responded “No”.

And here are my comments:

  • Everything in red (below) can be omitted. It’s stated elsewhere on the form the officer filled out. Busy officers don’t need to repeat themselves just because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
  • There’s a ghost at work here! The report doesn’t name who asked the question (“Do you have any information or views….?) or who drove the woman to jail. (“The defendant was placed”) (“The victim was asked”). A police report needs to be complete, making it clear who did what.
  • Use simple English. It’s an argument, not a “verbal altercation.” 
  • Omit opinions and conclusions: “The verbal altercation escalated.” Just state what happened: She struck him in the face.
  • Use names: “Kimberley,” not “the defendant.”
  • There’s no such thing as an “open fist,” so it’s pointless to write “closed fist.” (My thanks to Greg Buchkoski for this point.)

Here’s my revision. Notice that it’s much more efficient. Police officers are busy people!

On the listed date and time the defendant Carroll Kimberly, did violate. F.C.S 7.1.03.1A1 committing the offense of simple battery (Domestic Related) within Manatee County, FL. I was dispatched to the scene of a domestic incident. Upon arrival the victim was alleging that following occurred with John Smith told me that Carroll Kimberly is his girlfriend of five years. They were arguing about how he cut the meat and potatoes for their dinner. She hit him once in the face with her fist….

I arrested and transported her to the Manatee County jail without incident.
I asked her, “Do you have any information or views you wish to be expressed to the court?” She said “No.”

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2 thoughts on “A Meat-and-Potatoes Police Report

  1. greg buchkoski

    jean, your “revision” makes use of the words “closed fist.” As a career police officer and report writing instructor, that phrase drives me bonkers. There is no such thing as an “open fist” so the use of the words “closed fist” is nothing other than redundant. A fist implies that the hand is closed. Otherwise, it is a slap. Also, your verb tenses don’t match when you say “I arrest and transported her…”

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      Hi, Greg – I’m going to fix both points right away. Your point about “no such thing as an ‘open fist'” absolutely makes sense. When I do my revisions, I try to keep as much of the original language as I can – but in this case it was the wrong choice. And “arrest” was just a blooper on my part.

      Reply

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