Third Person or First Person?

If you’re employed in the criminal justice field, you’ve probably listened to court testimony, and you even have been involved in a court hearing yourself. Based on that experience, which sentence are you more likely to hear in a courtroom?

This officer clocked the driver going 67 mph in a 50 mph zone.

I clocked the driver going 67 mph in a 50 mph zone.

The answer is obvious, isn’t it? “I clocked the driver” is what you’re going to hear in that courtroom. I and me are normal words that professionals use all the time.

But many officers wouldn’t dream of using I and me in a police report. Why? Do you think an officer’s professionalism, experience, and integrity are going to melt away if they write “I saw” or “I heard” in a report?

Of course not. Officers say “I saw” and “I heard” all the time in court hearings. But old habits can be hard to shake. There’s still an uneasy sense in some agencies that you can’t quite trust an officer who writes “I saw a knife on the table” or “I found a clear plastic bag of powder under the car seat.” “He must be lying!” “She can’t be trusted.”

It’s time to let go of that outdated thinking. Integrity is a choice and a commitment. You can’t make a man or woman honest just by forbidding them to write sentences with I and me.

It’s common sense, isn’t it?

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