The Pop Tart Incident

On December 15, a Florida man named Brian Sutherland threw a pop-tart at his wife during an argument. He also struck her in the arm. You can read more here:

Here’s the police report. It’s detailed, thorough, and professional. I see a few sentences that  could be revised, however. What do you see as you read it?

Here are my comments:

1.  Defendant is misspelled . If there’s a common word you have trouble spelling (most of us do!), write it on an index card and carry it with you. Study it in spare moments – or pull out the card every time you write a report.

2.  Omit unnecessary details. Your common sense will tell you whether you need to write down any questions you asked. In this incident, the only information that matters is what the husband and wife told you. Omit your questions.

3.  Omit unnecessary words. All arguments are verbal, for example. You don’t need verbal. Here are two more examples of sentences that could have been written more efficiently:

The victim stated she and the defendant were involved in a verbal argument.
My version: The victim said she and her husband were arguing.

 She stated the defendant became upset and intentionally threw a pop-tart at her head.
My version: She said he became angry and threw a pop-tart at her head. (It’s impossible to throw something unintentionally! And you don’t need to keep repeating “the defendant.” There are only two people in this incident – the husband and wife.)

On the whole, however, this is an effective police report.


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