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.)

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