Here are three sentences from police reports. Two of them are good, professional sentences. But one sentence is missing an important piece of information. Can you spot the sentence that has a problem?
- Sitnikov was patted down, and a small plastic bag containing white powder was found in his left back pocket.
- Carson told me he didn’t hear anything unusual Tuesday evening.
- When I walked up to the counter, I recognized the woman standing in line in front of me.
The problem sentence is #1. Who patted Sitnikov down and found the plastic bag? The sentence doesn’t say. That omission could be a problem if there’s a court hearing later on.
Here’s a better version of the sentence:
- I patted Sitnikov down, and in his left back pocket I found a small plastic bag containing white powder . BETTER
Sign up for our FREE Police Writer e-Newsletter and receive a free copy of “10 Days to Better Police Reports,” ready to download! Your privacy is protected: We NEVER share emails with third parties.
Criminal Justice Report Writing by Jean Reynolds is available from Amazon.com for the low price of $17.95. For a free preview, click on the link or the picture below.
“It will definitely help you with your writing skills.” – Joseph E. Badger, California Association of Accident Reconstructionists Newsletter