Off the Leash

Here’s a summary of a recent police report (not an actual police report). Some words and expressions aren’t appropriate for a police report. One word in particular could cause legal problems for the agency. Which word is it – and why?

Officer Kenneth Wu was on patrol in the 400 block of S 11th St. when he observed a citizen walking a brown pit bull dog off a leash. Contact was made with the citizen and he was advised of the City leash law.

The problem is advised, which means counseled or suggested. A pit bull off a leash is a risky situation: they have a reputation for aggression. The officer should have told the owner to put the dog on a leash.

Suppose the owner continued to walk his dog without a leash – and the dog attacked a child. The owner could argue in court that he wasn’t required to use a leash: it was just a suggestion from the police officer.

Advised is not an appropriate term for most law enforcement situations. Use said or told.

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