How Good is “Good Enough?”

I’m always looking for police reports to discuss on this blog. Here’s one I came across in my files. What’s your opinion? (My comments appear below.)

On the above t/d/l, def did have a large knife in his hand and was threatening to kill himself and officers with that knife also stated had a gun but no gun was recovered def did refuse to drop the knife and did start coming towards officers in an aggressive manner. SWAT was called out.

I found this report odd. One feature that immediately caught my eye was the unnecessary “did”: “def did have a large knife….” “def did refuse to drop the knife and did start coming….”

I was also puzzled by the lack of periods and capital letters. The repeated “def” (short for “defendant”) suggested that the officer was in a hurry to submit the report.

My biggest concern is about this wording: “coming towards officers in an aggressive manner.” That’s too vague for a police report, and it opens the door to a challenge from a defense attorney. One person’s “aggressive manner’ could be another person’s normal behavior. (I’m from New York, so my threshold for “aggressive” may be different from someone else’s.

I wish I knew the backstory here. Perhaps the officer was unusually busy and didn’t have time to use professional practices. The unnecessary “did” may be a leftover from school days and an old-fashioned teacher.

Here are some questions for you to think about:

  • If you were a supervisor, would you insist on a rewrite – or let this one go? Or would you fix it yourself?
  • Does your agency have consistent policies about the minimum standards for a report?
  • Who makes those decisions?
  • If follow-ups are needed, who deals with them?

The time to make these decisions is before a problematic report is submitted. Every officer should know beforehand what the standards are – and where to go if there are questions or problems.

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2 thoughts on “How Good is “Good Enough?”

    1. Jean Post author

      No, it isn’t. My point was that officers need to review their reports and fix mistakes before submitting them. If you read my comments in the post, you can see what the problems are.

      Reply

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