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 Avenue.

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.)

8 thoughts on “Practice Writing a Report: Scenario 1

  1. Traquan Jackson

    Approximately, I observed a wooded lot on fire at the corner of Post Street and Pine Avenue. I stopped to investigate. Two boys then ran once they saw my patrol car. I called in the fire department and chased down the boys, who were at the corner of Pine and Carter.

    I questioned the boys, Jimmy Tonger (DOB 9/4/01, 113 Conley Road) told me ” he and Stone (DOB 2/2/01, 1335 Conley Road) were at a secret club and didn’t start the fire.” Stone said, ” they had stash of “dirty magazine” that they kept in a cardboard box in the wooded lot, and they were going home to report the fire.”

    I used the department phone to take pictures of each boy. I notified headquarters to have Detective Santos to come to my location. Once Detective Santos arrived, I relied the boy’s name and addresses for further investigation. I returned to the fire, to talk with fireman Janice Wilkes, who told me ” the fire is out.”

    I returned to headquarters, to download the photos. I turn in the photos to Detective Santos.

    1. jdancer

      Good writing! One change is needed. Don’t use quotation marks unless you’re quoting EXACTLY what was said. Jimmy didn’t say “he and Stone were at a secret club.” Jimmy’s exactly words were, “Stone and I were at a secret club.” “Relied” is the wrong word in the third paragraph: Did you mean relayed? In the last sentence, add -ed to “turn.”

  2. Shawn Adams

    At approximately 12:45PM, i drove pass a wooded lot near the intersection of Pine Street and Post avenue. At that time i noticed fire and smoke coming from the lot. i immediately approached the scene. Two young males fled from the scene towards Pine and Carter Street.

    i dispatched the fire department and made them aware of the fire. i got back in my patrol car, and began to make contact with the two guys. i started to question the two guys, Jimmy Tonger, 14, Dob : 09/04/01, of 113 Conley Road, and Stone, 14, 02/02/01, of 1335 Conley Road. Tonger told me that he and Stone had nothing to do with the fire, and that they were at a secret club; Jimmy Tonger also told me that they had stashed dirty magazines in the lot, and was on their way home to report the fire. Soon, i performed a thorough search on each party. They had nothing on their persons that pertained to the incident. i used my departmental phone to snap photos of the two individuals.

    i returned to the scene of the fire; fire officials confirmed that the fire was extinguished. Finally, i went back to the station, and turned the investigation over to Detective Santos. i provided him with the guys’ names, date of births, age, and addresses.

  3. Jean Post author

    What’s with the lower-case “i” in many of your sentences, Shawn? Also: learn the difference between “pass” and “past,” and avoid slang (“guys” isn’t appropriate, for example).
    Much of this is excellent – be sure to compare your version to the one I posted online.

  4. Tony Castaneda

    On 1/6/17 at approximately 1242 hours, I notice signs of what appeared to be smoke coming from a wooded parking lot located at Post street and Pine Ave. I stopped to investigate and I saw what appeared to be two male boys coming from the wooded area in the same location of the smoke. When they saw my fully marked patrol vehicle they started running south along Pine Ave.

    I contacted dispatch at approximately 1244 hours and gave locations to dispatch fire. I followed the two male boys that were running towards the EZ-Shoppe located S/W corner of Pine Ave and Carter Street.

    When the two male boys saw my patrol vehicle, they stopped and froze. I made contact with the two male boys, their names are Jimmy Tonger and Sam Stone. I asked the two boys what they were doing in that location, they said they were part of a secret club and they meet in the wooded parking lot. They also stated they had a stash of “dirty magazines” located in the wooded area and they were going home to call and report the fire.

    I used my department issued cell phone to take pictures of the two male boys. I contacted Detective Camille Santos and updated her with the boys names and addresses for further investigation. I went back to the fire location and spoke with firefighter Janice Wilkes and she stated that “the fire had already been extinguished.”

    I went back to my department and downloaded the pictures and forwarded them to Det. Santos.

    1. Jean Post author

      Excellent report overall – you have a problem with wordiness, however.
      Someone has mistakenly taught you that you need extra words and nonsense in a police report. You don’t. Get straight to the point. Police officers have other things to do with their time.
      Several times you wrote “male boys.” Boys are always male!
      In paragraph 3 you could write, “When they saw me” instead of “When the two male boys saw my patrol vehicle.”
      Don’t write “what appeared to be.” It doesn’t add anything useful. Stick to what you saw: two boys, smoke. And you don’t need to write “my fully marked patrol vehicle.”
      Be careful also with usage. For example, you omitted the -ed ending on “noticed.”


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