Most police reports can be organized into four types. This post deals with Type 1 reports. (For an overview of all four types of reports, click here.)
Here’s a sample Type 1 report:
At 5:22 p.m. on May 12, 2010, I was dispatched to 239 Carol Avenue regarding a theft. Lawrence Cooper (DOB 7-15-1987) reported that his son David’s bicycle had been stolen.
Cooper told me:
-David (DOB 11-04-2001) had brought the bicycle into the carport the evening before (May 11)
-the bicycle wasn’t locked
-the bicycle is a blue Sears boys’ bicycle with black tires and black handlebars
-the bicycle is three years old
David went to the carport after school to ride the bicycle. He saw the bicycle was missing. When his father came home, David told him that the bike had been stolen. Lawrence called the police at 5:20.
No one was home all day. Neither David nor Lawrence knows when the bicycle was stolen. They don’t remember whether it was in the carport this morning. They did not hear any unusual noises last night.
What makes it a Type 1 report?
The answer is that this is a “Just the facts, Ma’am” report. There’s no investigation (Type 2) or intervention (Type 3).
In a Type 1 report, you interview a witness or victim and write down the information – and you’re finished. You might write a Type 1 report after a citizen reports that her bicycle was stolen. Incident reports also fall into this category.
In this type of report, your narrative may be very brief because you don’t do an investigation or make an arrest. You simply record the facts.
Here’s a review of the characteristics of a Type 1 report:
Type 1 Report
|Event||Officer’s role||Probable cause?||Information needed||Special requirements|
|The crime or incident happened before you arrived||Record what happened (break-in, assault, etc.)||Not needed if a citizen requests assistance||Piece together and accurately record events that happened before you arrived||Accuracy, logical order of events, and completeness|
Here are a few more comments:
- Notice that this report is written in clear, crisp sentences: “No one was home all day.” “Lawrence called the police at 5:20.” There’s no attempt to impress readers with police jargon or fancy sentences. Puffing up your report with unnecessary words (“The abovementioned victim,” “It was ascertained by this officer”) just wastes time and makes you sound pompous and silly.
- Notice also that this report includes a timesaving list:
Cooper told me:
-David (DOB 11-04-2005) had brought the bicycle into the carport the evening before (May 11)
-the bicycle wasn’t locked
-the bicycle is a blue Sears bicycle with black tires and black handlebars
-the bicycle is three years old
You’ve been writing lists all your life! It makes sense to use a list when you have several pieces of related information. This is called bullet style, and it’s an efficient practice that smart officers use often.
Notice too that you don’t write your entire report in bullet style! Lists are useful for a series of facts, such as a description of a suspect or a list of stolen items. You can learn more about bullets at this link.
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Writing a Police Report Narrative
- Length: 1344 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Report writing is a form of writing that gives it reader information a type of writing that explain what is taking place or what has taking it a recounting of events . Most newspapers use this type of descriptive recreation of events within their report writing they explain the circumstances of case, court proceeding, type of crime that occurred, etc. (Police reports and there purpose (n.d). Newspaper writer try to explain to the readers what took place and why it is or should be topics of concern police report writing follow the same guidelines. Having the ability to write reports is of extreme importance in police and correctional work daily. Report writing is one of the primary forms of communication within the field of law enforcement agency. Police reports are read by supervisors, police chiefs, fellow officers as well as other criminal justice professionals. Furthermore these documents are written to display the result of an investigation, crimes scene, incidents, and more so it is imperative that there is no grammar errors or misspellings with in the document. Police report writers paint the picture of the events that took place from the time they were called until, the time of their arrival to a crime scene or incident. It’s important that all reports submitted by correctional workers and police officer be well-written with factual information giving step by step details of everything that transpired in chronological order also being very specific about every detail. The reason this is of high important is because this report can assist prosecutor in obtaining a valid conviction of the proper suspect accused (Police reports and there purpose (n.d). Whereas if the police report is poorly written the defense can argue against the finding and may use the discrepancies against the prosecuting state. When poorly written reports are enter into evident for juries to deliberate on it a huge possibility that the report may cause jurors to call into to question whether the officer who wrote it is as careless in other aspects of their police work. as noted by (Police reports and there purpose (n.d). Another issue that will occur if reports are not properly written is miscommunications or misunderstanding. For example a police officer submits a document with only one misspelled words to his police chief, the chief read the report from the officer he put decrease instead of the deceased and cause the chief to send the report the wrong department.
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Imagine the devastating effect this small error can have on the procession of the paperwork. If a crime never gets reported there is never an investigation ensued, no one will arrest, and no prosecution will be pursued. Campbell states that there are four types of reports used in police departments field notes ,initial police reports, operational reports, administrative report as noted by ( Campbell , 2013 pp.186). However, there are a few main types of police reporting processes used by law enforcement officers which are believed to be arrest reports and crime or incident reports, follow-up investigation. Arrest reporting (initial police reports) is a form of reporting that provides details on the arrest made by the police. In most case there is arrest form with reporting requirement such entering the charges of arrest, name of arrestee, department, jurisdiction, type of arrest, date of birth, etc. Although majority of the form is in descriptive format there is also a portion in narrative form the police officer has to give a recreation in writing of what took place leading up to the arrest of the accused all the way up to the booking of the suspect. This document is in most cases a public record that is entered in to the arrestee file with fingerprints, photograph, and demographic data so the department can keep a record of the individual arrest history. The document is also sent to the prosecutor who will than determine what charges (felony or a misdemeanor) should be pursued against the accused and if. The second most common form of police reporting (in my opinion ) is crime or incident reporting this form of reporting provides details on law enforcement responses to citizen calls for assistance, this can be a call to an car accident, domestic violence call, disturbing the peace, etc. basically things that might not lead to arrest. Campbell “states that the two most use reporting are follow-up investigation reports and offense report” as noted by (Campbell, 2013 pp.188). Offense reports are the first report taking commissions of crime. He also states that follow-up reports are reports “that sets forth information about any subsequent investigation and the results of that investigation’ as noted by (Campbell, 2013 pp.184). Is it important to provide the opinion of the reporting police officer in a report? No it is not necessary for the reporting officer to implement his or her opinion into the document. The reason why it is not necessary for an opinion to be implemented is a police report is a recounting of events things that actually occurred. It is felt that is from the time the dispatcher requested the assistance the of law enforcement officer until the time of the resolution of the incident. An opinion is a view or judgment from an individual perspective something that is based off of personal knowledge not a fact. Law enforcement officers bound by laws that must be abided by. Although they may have personal opinion what should take place or what did take place when they get on it is not necessary give an opinion (Writing a Police Report Narrative (n.d). Supervisors, police chiefs, fellow officers as well as other criminal justice professionals who have to read the report need to know who, what, when, where and why. Who committed the crime, what happen that would make it a crime, when did the incident occur, where did this crime occur is within the department jurisdiction, and ask question n why did the crime happen(M.U.S.E, 2013). An example of a good police report is one that is clear, factual, and concise. Using a narrative reporting process can ensure that everything that is being described is in fact what was being observed (Writing a Police Report Narrative (n.d). Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar is imperative, knowing the intend audience. For example officer Williams was dispatched On Dec 21, 2013, at approximately 12:45 AM; an unidentified female was accused of entering Circle K gas station and stole $498 from the register. Circle K was open, but there were no customers at the time of the crime and the store associate(Billy Smith) was doing paperwork in the office. Sam Marks, a co-worker, was mopping the floor when the suspect entered. Marks stated, the woman entered the store walked to the counter looked around didn’t see anyone, than proceed to open the register put out all content across the till. After the suspect removed all of the money from the register, she ran out the front door. Mr. Marks called 9-1-1 at 12:55PM. He described the suspect as a white female in her early twenty wearing a blue t-shirt, denim jeans. After recording the incident in a police report and finding and arresting the suspect accused of the criminal offense the report is then file under the arrestee criminal history. Nichols .P .W states that “Investigation may include interviewing the victim(s), witnesses and suspect(s), collecting physical evidence, photographing and measuring the crime scene, obtaining records, and so forth. Some investigations are conducted by responding officers while others are referred to detectives” As noted by (Nichols .P .W (n.d). It than handed over to the prosecution office, this is where charges will be determined whether charge should be brought on a felony level or as misdemeanor level. The Prosecution make a request for an arrest warrant and the charges will submitted against the accused. The Prosecutor must thoroughly review all reports and records concerning the case, including witness statements. If there are any grammar errors or misspellings grammar errors or misspellings they are usually caught during this process Once charges are brought against the offender and the prosecution fill that the case is strong enough to take to trial the report can be admitted in to evident examples. The report is then pass thought District Court Arraignment where the judge read the incident report and the charges brought against the offender a pretrial conference date will be set the police report will be read to the offender again also explaining why he or she was charged. Than the trial where the judge, jury, prosecution, and defense look over all report submitted.
Campbell (2013) Pearson criminal justice. Retrieved from (pp. 184-190)
M.U.S.E (2013)Report writing. Retrieved from Unit 4 Individual project (pp. 4)
Police reports and there purpose (n.d) retrieved 06, Dec 2013from http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0078111463/945394/Ch01.pdf
Nichols .P .W (n.d) Steps In a Criminal Case. Retrieved 08, Dec 2013 from http://www.co.monroe.mi.us/government/departments_offices/prosecuting_attorney/steps_in_a_prosecution.html
Writing a Police Report Narrative (n.d) retrieved 07, Dec 2013 from http://literacy.kent.edu/eureka/EDR/5/Middletown/Police%20&%20Fire%20Academies/Writing%20a%20Police%20Report%20Narrative.pdf