Practice Writing a Report: Scenario 1

Use this scenario to practice writing a criminal justice report. This is a Type 4 scenario (the officer initiates the action). After you finish your report, you can compare your version to a finished professional report.

At approximately 12:42 this afternoon, you were driving to Cathy’s Cafe to eat lunch. You passed a wooded lot at the intersection of Post Street and Pine Avenue. You saw smoke rising from the interior of the wooded area. You stopped to investigate.

Suddenly two boys walked out from between the trees. They saw your patrol car and started running south along Pine Street.

You called the fire department, reported the fire, and gave the location. Then you followed the boys, who were running towards the E-Z Shoppe at the southwest corner of Pine Avenue and Carter Street. You pulled into the E-Z Shoppe lot, parked your car, and exited. The boys saw you and froze.

You questioned the boys, whose names are Jimmy Tonger (DOB 9/4/01, 1311 Conley Road) and Sam Stone (DOB 2/2/01, 1335 Conley Road). Neither boy was carrying anything. Tonger told you he and Stone had a secret club that met in the wooded lot, and they didn’t start the fire. Stone said they had a stash of “dirty magazines” that they kept in a cardboard box in the wooded lot, and they were going home to report the fire.

You used your department cell phone to take a picture of each boy. You called headquarters and spoke to Detective Camille Santos. You gave her the boys’ names and addresses for further investigation. You drove back to the wooded lot, parked your patrol car, and talked to firefighter Janice Wilkes, who told you the fire had already been extinguished.

You returned to the station house, downloaded the pictures you had taken, and turned them over to Detective Santos.

(Reminder: Of course you suspect the boys of starting the fire. But it’s not appropriate to report hunches, suspicions, or any other thoughts in a police report. Record only what you heard, saw, and did.)

2 thoughts on “Practice Writing a Report: Scenario 1

  1. Joseph C

    At about 4:12 p.m., I passed a wooded lot on the corner on Post Street and Pine Avenue. I saw that the lot was on fire and smoke was emitting from it. As i drove past the wooded area to investigate, two young men had exited the same area. I called the Fire Department to report the fire and gave them the location. I proceeded to intercept the two young men for questioning, but as soon as they saw my patrol car, they both took off running south toward toward Pine Street.

    I followed the two young men and finally intercepted them at the Corner of Pine, and Carter Street. I then began questioning the two boys. The first individual, Jimmy Tonger,14, told me that the two of them held a secret club in the wooded area and that they did not start the fire. The other individual, Sam Stone, also 14, said they hid a stash of ‘dirty magazines’ in the wooded lot and were on their way home to report the fire.

    I searched both individuals and found no contents on either of them. I then used my department phone to take photographic evidence of the two individuals.I proceeded to called headquarters and relay the information and evidence to Detective Santos. I gave him the boys names, age, and addresses for further investigation into the event.

    After, I started back to the wooded lot to where the fire had occurred. I spoke with one of the firefighters on scene, and they told me that the fire had already been extinguished.

    I then returned to the station, downloaded the pictures I had taken for evidence, and handed it over to Detective Santos.

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      This is a terrific report! I’d suggest making it less wordy. You could say “I saw flames and smoke” instead of “I saw that the lot was on fire
      and smoke was emitting from it.”
      Always omit “I proceeded to” and just tell what you did. For example, you wrote “I proceeded to intercept the two young men for questioning, but as soon as they saw my patrol car, they both took off. It would be simpler to write, “The two young men ran off as soon as they saw my patrol car.”
      Use an apostrophe with “boys’ names.” Use double quotation marks, not single. You wrote ‘dirty magazines.’ In the US, it’s “dirty magazines.”
      Write as efficiently as possible. You wrote “I spoke with one of the firefighters on scene, and they told me that the fire had already been extinguished.”
      You could have said it more simply: “A firefighter told me the fire was out.
      Overall, though, this is terrific – active voice, thorough, jargon-free.

      Reply

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