Monday, July 27, 2015

Report Writing

Report writing is a critical but often overlooked part of police work.  We spend far too little time learning how to write reports and how to put into words what happened in the field.  Since so many of our tasks are routine and repetitive we become complacent in our report writing and often leave out important information.

If we have a use of force against someone it is important to include those little details that might not seem like much alone, but can more fully explain the reasonableness of our use of force.  "The suspect came at me and I hit him with my baton, one time in the arm."  That is not much of an explanation.

"The suspect exited his car.  I ordered him in a loud voice to 'Get back in your car.'  He refused and ran towards me, screaming, 'I don't have to do what you say.'"  His tone of voice was angry, his face was red, and his right arm was raised in a fist.  I drew my baton and ordered him to 'Stop, get back.'   Then went he was almost on top of me, I struck him one time in the upper right arm with my baton, to prevent him from punching me.  He then stopped, and fell to his knees at my feet.  I handcuffed him without further incident."  The additional details make it much clearer why the suspect needed to be struck with a baton.  Two years from now in court, the second version will help you recall important details; that's what the SGT Says.

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