A Challenge for You

Aldon Smith is a former NFL football player who used to play for the 49ers and the Raiders. In 2015 Smith was involved in an automobile collision that made the news because he walked away from it without leaving identifying information.

Below is a press release from the Santa Clara Police Department that describes what happened. It provides an opportunity for you to think about the kinds of information required in a police report. (A press release is not, of course, a police report – it’s a fact sheet for newspapers, TV, and other media.)

So…after you read the press release, make a list of additional information you’d expect to see if you had a chance to read the actual police report. (Reminder: A police report has to be specific.) After you’re finished, scroll down to see my list and compare it to yours.

On Thursday, August 6, 2015 at about 8:46 PM, Santa Clara Officers were dispatched to Moreland Way to investigate a disturbance involving a collision. On arrival, officers learned Aldon Smith was parking his vehicle and collided with a parked vehicle. After the collision, Smith exited his vehicle and caused additional damage to the parked vehicle with his car door.

Smith then left the area not reporting the collision or leaving his identifying information at the scene. He later returned to the parking area where he was contacted by officers. Smith displayed objective symptoms of being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Officers administered a field sobriety test to Smith.

Additional information I would expect to find in the police report might include:

  • What actions by Smith caused the damage to the parked vehicle?
  • What did the damage look like?
  • Who saw Aldon Smith exit his car?
  • What were the signs that Smith was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage?
  • How did the police contact Smith when he returned?
  • How did he respond to the police?
  • Which field sobriety test was administered?
  • Which officer administered it?
  • What were the results?

Specific practices for writing police reports can vary from agency to agency. If your list is different, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong. Just be sure that you’re carefully following the guidelines for your agency.

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