Police reports record essential details about crimes, provide important data, and facilitate investigations and prosecutions. But none of these things happen by themselves. Someone in the agency has to ensure that crime scene units, district attorneys, and other entities have access to those reports.
Some police reports – unfortunately – get lost along the way. Last May I wrote a post about problems with missing police reports at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Although a number of Baylor football players were accused of sexual assault, no one on the team was charged or disciplined.
Now Baylor is in the news again. A recent 60 Minutes investigation found additional evidence of sexual crimes at Baylor. According to the investigation, campus police were guilty of “significant failure” when they held back police reports that should have been provided to the federal government. (Under Title IX, colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to collect data about sexual crimes, investigations, and prosecutions.)
There are lessons to be learned from Baylor’s problems. Officers need to remember that every report is important: You never know who will be following up on something you’ve written. Administrators need to aware that their agency or department is part of a huge criminal justice system that – down the road – may be very interested in what seemed to be only a local issue.
In the end, it all comes down to integrity and professionalism.
Where do you stand?