What to Omit from a Police Report

There’s an intriguing topic! Officers often worry (and rightly so) about leaving something important out of a report. But it’s also true that some things don’t belong in a report. Here are some examples. (I’ve included revisions in blue when I thought they’d be helpful.)

OPINIONS
Because of Mrs. Brown’s age, I knew she might not have heard the noise outside.

THOUGHTS
I decided the suspect had probably exited through the bedroom window.

GENERALIZATIONS
Foster seemed confused.

HUNCHES
I had a hunch that Casey had put the money in the freezer.

PASSIVE VOICE (unless you’re describing an action by an unknown person)
Clark was questioned by me.

BETTER:
I questioned Clark.
A wallet and a diamond ring were taken. (Acceptable if you don’t know who took them)

JARGON
“Mirandized,” “Baker acted,” “this officer,” “I processed the area.”

BETTER:
I took him into custody and began Baker Act proceedings.  

I read him his rights from my Miranda card.  
I examined the front and back doors. I found pry marks by the outside door handle on the back door.  

REPETITION
I asked what time she got home from work. She said 5:20 p.m. I asked what happened. She said she noticed the open window and got worried. I asked if she was sure it had been closed when she left that morning. She said yes, she was sure it had been closed. 

BETTER:
I asked what happened. She said she got home from work at 5:20 p.m. She saw the open window and got worried. She was sure it had been closed when she left that morning.

A concise and objective report saves time and shows off your professionalism. Make it your goal to write an excellent report every time.

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