Last October, a major league pitcher got drunk and illegally entered a house through a doggie door. Jacob Nix from the San Diego Padres and a friend, Thomas Cosgrove, told police they thought they were entering Nix’s house.
The homeowner called police and kicked Nix in the face before help arrived. Police charged both Nix and Cosgrove with criminal trespassing.
It’s a good professional report, but it could be better. I’m going to examine two sentences today:
The defendant was confronted by V1 who engaged in a physical altercation with him by kicking the defendant one time in the face. During this time, the co-defendant T. Cosgrove reached into the doggie door in an attempt to pull the defendant out.
- There’s no need to use the terms V1 and co-defendant. The report is easier to read if you just use their names. (Remember, many busy people – attorneys, judges, reports, and so on – may be reading your police reports.)
- A physical altercation is a fight. Use clear, plain words.
- “During this time” is unnecessary. Make your reports as brief as possible.
Here’s my version:
The homeowner kicked Nix in the face. T. Cosgrove reached into the doggie door and tried to pull Nix out.
The original version is 43 words; mine is 21. Which do you think is a better use of a police officer’s valuable time?