What Information Do You Need?

Police reports aren’t just about writing: they often require critical thinking skills. 

Today I’m going to challenge you to think about what information you would need to write a report about a sexual assault.

Here’s the basic information that came from a recent Tulsa, Oklahoma press release (https://ktul.com/news/local/sapulpa-man-raped-unconsciousvictim-according-to-police-report).

If you were the investigating officer, what information would you need to include in your report? Make your own list first, and then look at my suggestions below. (Note that these are suggestions; your list may be different.)

A man is charged with raping an unconscious victim, and the crimes were captured by a hidden camera, according to a police affidavit filed in Creek County court.
Kevin Clark, 47, of Sapulpa, was arrested this week after a woman came forward, claiming to be raped in Kiefer.
The woman had been staying in a travel trailer provided by Clark and one day discovered a hidden camera with a memory card, containing recordings of Clark sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious, according to the affidavit.
Police followed up and found additional images on Clark’s phone of Clark assaulting the victim while she was unconscious, according to the affidavit.
Police say Clark denied knowing about the hidden camera and claimed the sexual encounters were consensual, and that the victim had a fetish of using drugs and losing consciousness before intercourse.
Police also believe Clark had been selling and supplying multiple people with narcotics.
Clark was booked into jail on charges that include rape and sexual battery.

Here are some issues I thought about:

  • Because this is a Type 2 report, it needs to include two types of information: what the victim and suspect said – and what the police investigation showed (the recordings on Clark’s camera).
  • There’s no need for the investigating officers to record that they were in full uniform or to state where they were parked. That information doesn’t affect their investigation.

And here are some questions that might shape the report:

  • Where did police find Clark? How did they track him down? Did any citizens provide helpful information? What are their names?
  • What happened when police arrived? How did Clark react? Did police find anything that needs to be included in the report (such as drugs or a weapon)?
  • Who made the arrest? A statement like “Clark was apprehended and placed under arrest” isn’t good enough. What’s the officer’s name?
  • Who read Clark his Miranda rights and drove him to jail? Writing that “Clark was read his Miranda rights” and “He was booked into Creek County jail” aren’t good enough. What’s the officer’s name?
  • Who provided information about Clark’s involvement with narcotics? Was there an additional investigation?
  • What did the victim tell police? How do they know about her drug history? Was she one of Clark’s customers?
  • What help did the victim receive, and who provided it? A statement like “Mary Doe was given a victims rights booklet and referred to the Women’s Resource Center” isn’t good enough. What’s the officer’s name?

Be aware that agency policies may vary, and they need to be followed carefully.

I have one more comment: the statement that the victim “had a fetish of using drugs and losing consciousness before intercourse” is troubling. I’m wondering if better wording would be that she had “a habit of using drugs.” How should that information be handled in the report? Could it affect the case if it goes to court?

A definition of rape

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