Quiz: What Belongs in a Police Report?

Do you know what kinds of statements belong in a police report – and what kinds don’t? Try this report writing quiz, and then scroll down to check your answers.

Instructions: Put an X in front of each statement that doesn’t belong in a police report.

___ 1.  The house looked empty.

___2.  All the windows were dark.

___3.  Mrs. Brown was uncooperative.

___4.  Mrs. Brown left the room while I was talking to her.

___5.  Joseph Chang shook his fist at me.

___6.  Joseph Chang defied me.

___7.  I realized what was about to happen.

___8.  I grabbed his left wrist as his left hand moved toward the bat.

___9.  The clerk obviously had no intention of  asking Susan for her ID.

___10.  The clerk did not ask Susan for her ID when she handed him the money for the beer.

ANSWERS
Items in blue are correct. Items marked X are not observable facts and do not belong in a police report.

X 1.  The house looked empty. (An opinion, not an observable fact.)

2.  All the windows were dark.

X 3.  Mrs. Brown was uncooperative. (An opinion. Perhaps she didn’t answer your questions because she was afraid, or couldn’t hear you, or she was taking her time thinking about her answers.)

4.  Mrs. Brown left the room while I was talking to her.

5.  Joseph Chang shook his fist at me.

X 6.  Joseph Chang defied me. (An opinion. He might argue in court that he wanted to cooperate with you but couldn’t hear you or understand you.)

X 7.  I realized what was about to happen.  (An opinion. You can’t insert your thinking processes into a report.)

8.  I grabbed his left wrist as his left hand moved toward the bat.

X 9.  The clerk obviously had no intention of  asking Susan for her ID.  (An opinion. You can’t put your thoughts into a report.)

10.  The clerk did not ask Susan for her ID when she handed him the money for the beer.delete key

 

 

 

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Updated, with a new chapter on Writing Efficiently

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