A Domestic Violence Report

Officers often tell me they’re worried about grammar. They don’t understand gerunds, clauses, and other grammar terminology. How can they be effective writers without that knowledge?

My answer is always that they already know grammar. They’ve been creating sentences all their lives!

What I most often see missing in reports is something they may not have thought about: critical thinking. They may need an experienced officer to show them what’s needed in a report – and what can be omitted.

Efficiency is all about critical thinking. You may be overloaded with information after making an arrest. You need to decide what’s necessary – and omit the rest.

Today I have an example from a domestic violence report:

Upon arriving at the Bethesda West Emergency Room, I met with Nurse Leisen who advised me of the following.

She overheard a male subject stating that he had pushed his wife causing her to fall breaking her hip after arguing with her. I met with a male subject identifying himself by his Florida driver’s license as Edward A. Aronson in room 115.

It’s not necessary say that you arrived at the emergency room and met with the nurse. If you record her statement, it’s obvious that you were there and talking to her. (And please don’t use advised. The nurse wasn’t giving you advice. She was telling you about a possible crime.)

Sometimes suspects (and victims too) give false ID’s. It can be important to show that you did the professional thing and verified their identification. But a hospital patient and her husband are unlikely to fall into that category.

To repeat: Use your critical thinking skills to decide what information is necessary.

Here’s a rewrite that’s more efficient:

I was dispatched to Bethesda West Hospital. Nurse Leisen told me she overheard a man saying he broke his wife’s hip during an argument.

I met with Edward A. Aronson in room 115.

The original version is 62 words. The revision is 33 words – and has all the information needed. Which version is a better use of a busy officer’s time?

An angry man with clenched fist about to commit domestic violence

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