Analyze a Report

I always encourage officers and students to read as many police reports as possible. You will learn a lot!

Here’s a 2012 report published online that’s useful to read. The officer had a great deal of information to record, and some of it was confusing. The report is well handled!

Here’s what happened: In December 2012, the University of Texas suspended two football players in connection with a sexual assault allegation made by a 21-year-old San Antonio woman. Coach Mack Brown says the players were sent home for violating team rules and have not yet been charged with any crimes. Some observers have noted that the two players don’t completely match the descriptions of the suspects in the police report.

This unfolding story raises more questions than it answers. The alleged victim had been drinking before she invited the two men to her hotel room: Did she accurately remember what happened? Was a substance like Rohypnol secretly added to one of her drinks? Were the two suspended football players even involved in the case? 

But the report concisely and accurately organizes all the available facts about what happened at the scene and afterward, at the hospital.

Some comments from me:

1.  In the first sentence, “above listed location” is unnecessary: The location is already stated in the published report.

2.  The abbreviations V1 (for victim), 01 (for “other person”), and SP1 and SP2 (for suspects) are confusing to read and add nothing to the report. (Some agencies, however, use this practice to eliminate names when the report is released to the public.)

3.  The reference to a “strong odor of alcohol on her breath” may be challenged in court by an astute attorney who knows that alcohol is odorless. Use “alcoholic beverage” or “liquor” instead.

4.  One excellent feature of this report is its use of “I” (“I was dispatched,” “I contacted,” “I observed bruising”). These sentences are clear and easy to read, and they eliminate confusion about who did what at the scene.

5.  Passive voice appears in several places. Not a good idea! You need to state who performed each action: “Night CID was contacted, (SUP) was advised of the situation….”

6.  “Martini” is misspelled, and capital letters should not have been used for rape, night manager, vodka, and hotel. Red Bull is capitalized correctly in one sentence (it’s a brand name) but incorrectly written in lower case in another sentence.

7.  In American punctuation, periods and commas always go before quotation marks. For example, one of the alleged victim’s statements should have been punctuated this way: “I don’t quite remember.”

8. “Advised” is misused in one place in the report: “(SUP) was advised of the situation.” The sentence should read, “I told the supervisor about the situation.” Save “advise” for situations when you actually counsel someone: “I advised her to change the lock on her door.”

This officer deserves credit for writing a thorough and precise report. Time constraints in a busy shift may have gotten in the way of making minor edits and corrections.

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