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Sample Report: Type 4 (Probable Cause)

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Here’s a sample report for you to analyze and use as a model. Type 4 reports have a special feature: Probable cause.

You, the officer, initiate the investigation. Instead of being dispatched to a scene, you make the decision to become involved in an unfolding story.

Since probable cause is required, this is an advanced type of report writing. The good news is that any officer who understands probable cause can easily write this type of report.

Many corrections reports fall into this category: The officer observes or interacts with an inmate who is violating an institutional rule.

Type 4 reports can also be appropriate outside the corrections field. You observe a citizen who is behaving suspiciously. Or you’re about to walk into a convenience store when you see that something is not right–for example, a display has been knocked over, and the clerk isn’t in her usual place behind the counter.

Type 4 reports can be challenging because you have to justify becoming involved. This chart offers guidelines for writing an effective Type 4 report. A sample report follows.

Type 4

Event Officer’s Role Probable cause? Information needed Challenges
Officer sets the case in motion You observe suspicious or criminal activity and choose to intervene Must be documented in detail: Physical signs that something is wrong, and suspicious behavior (twitching, rapidly looking from side to side, slipping hand into a pocket, etc.) Suspects’ words and actions; your observations, words, and actions; information from onlookers Justify the traffic stop or other intervention; demonstrate that procedures were followed thoroughly and accurately. Don’t record your thinking process.

Here’s a sample Type 4 report:

At 0815 hours on 4 January, 2010, on the sidewalk in front of C Dorm, I saw inmate Charles Coffley R-23165 extend his right leg in front of another inmate, Robert Sims R-11725, who was headed into the dorm. Sims fell and dropped the soft drink he was carrying. Some of the liquid splashed on Coffley’s uniform.

Coffley turned to Sims, grabbed his left arm, and shouted, “You did that on purpose!”

I was standing about 5 yards behind Coffley and Sims. I told Coffley that I saw the incident and was going to write a disciplinary report. I radioed for assistance. When Officer Kanto arrived at C Dorm, we escorted Coffley to disciplinary confinement.

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