Revise a Paragraph

Today we’re going to streamline a paragraph police report from 2014.

New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones said he made a “pretty stupid mistake” that caused him to be admitted to Norwood Hospital in  Massachusetts on January 10. He arrived at the police station shirtless, disoriented, and asking for help. An officer went to Jones’ house to pick up clothing for him and noticed a smell of “burnt marijuana.” No charges were filed.

Marijuana use is banned by the NFL. A first violation results in the player being referred to the league’s substance abuse program, but no fine or suspension.

You can read the story and police report here. The report is thorough and professional but overlong. Busy police officers might benefit from reading it and thinking about ways to make it shorter.

I found two problems with the first paragraph.

Approximately 07:40 Hrs. — Officer Foscaldo arrives at officer parking area to START his day shift. He and Reserve Officer Headd, who was completing his mid-night shift, engaged in conversation.

This paragraph doesn’t contain any useful information. Another problem is that it’s written in present tense (“Officer Foscaldo arrives”). 

The second paragraph has many filler words and phrases. What words can be crossed out without losing any useful information? I found 14 of them. That’s a lot of wasted writing time in just one paragraph. Which words would you cross out?

It was at that time Foscaldo observed a shirtless black man wearing blue sweatpants. This individual had a muscular build, over 6 feet tall and long arms. in a very hurried fashion this individual scurried through the lot where cruisers were parked, and then made a direct line to the rear, Police Only, entry point to the station. Without warning or provocation the individual abruptly got down on his knees and placed his hands behind his head.  [77 words]

Here’s my version, with unnecessary words in green

It was at that time Foscaldo observed a shirtless black man wearing blue sweatpants. This individual had a muscular build, over 6 feet tall and long arms. in a very hurried fashion this individual scurried through the lot where cruisers were parked, and then made a direct line to the rear, Police Only, entry point to the station. Without warning or provocation the individual abruptly got down on his knees and placed his hands behind his head.

I also changed observed to saw and this individual to he:

Foscaldo observed saw a shirtless black man wearing blue sweatpants. This individual The man had a muscular build, over 6 feet tall and long arms. This individual He scurried through the lot where cruisers were parked, and then made a direct line to the rear, Police Only, entry point to the station. The individual He abruptly got down on his knees and placed his hands behind his head.  [61 words]

Here’s the final version – 16 words shorter:

Foscaldo saw a shirtless black man wearing blue sweatpants. The man had a muscular build, over 6 feet tall and long arms. He scurried through the lot where cruisers were parked, and then made a direct line to the rear, Police Only, entry point to the station.  He abruptly got down on his knees and placed his hands behind his head.Chandler_Jones 2

 

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