Anyone who reads your report a lieutenant, reporter, or attorney will be impressed by your professionalism and writing ability. You will have avoided outdated and time-wasting wordiness that characterizes so much police writing. Use names and pronouns I, he, her when you write about yourself and others at the scene. Follow the same practice in your reports.
Winning a civil rights lawsuit against a municipality or county is like winning the lottery, at least for the plaintiffs and their attorneys. The vast majority of these suits do not go to trial; the city or county will settle out of court without admitting to wrongdoing.
In the back of your mind, you know what these administrators are thinking: Our officers did nothing wrong, but we are going to pay you this huge sum of money anyway so you will go away.
Where does that leave you, the individual officer? Hopefully covered by the settlement, but in reality, what do the people you serve think writing a police report law enforcement they learn about the settlement? I know you feel disgusted when your agency rolls over like this and pays some nuisance claim.
But in those cases where force is used—and we are most likely to be sued—we seem to be ashamed to tell the truth and admit that we hit, punched, kicked, bit, scratched, and otherwise got nasty with some miscreant. Disregarding that he pulled out a gun or a knife, or wanted to fight anyone in a uniform, there still is a mindset among many administrators and risk manager types that writing out exactly what you did and, more importantly, why you did it, is wrong or not necessary.
This is a huge mistake. It is no longer accepted, if it ever was, in a use-of-force incident report to use phrases like, "I physically subdued the subject. Your sergeant may know what happened, but what about the prosecuting attorney or defense counsel?
Will they know what happened and why? It may be shorter and even accurate to say you "used physical force," but it does not tell all the facts.
Consider the following statement as a way to write a report on a use-of-force incident: The suspect swung his fists at me. I told him to stop resisting and that he would be sprayed with OC if he did not.
He again tried to hit me, and I sprayed him twice with my department-issued OC spray. This caused him to back away, but he still tried to hit me. I again ordered him to, "Stop resisting," but he continued to swing his fists at me, yelling, "Screw off, copper.
I then struck him twice on the left knee with my baton.
He fell to the ground, saying, "I give up, I give up. After he was medically cleared, he was booked into county jail without further incident.
This example is much clearer for you and the reader, and it is more detailed. Probably because cops hate paperwork more than anything else, except certain vile criminals, administrative types, and the ACLU. Own Worst Enemies Many times, we are our own worst enemies. One thing we do have in our favor is that we can learn from the mistakes of others, with little or no cost to ourselves.
More likely than not, if it was a civil trial, the judgment was due to a perception of wrongdoing, rather than actual wrongdoing. If you do not record the details of the event and what precipitated the use of force in your report, it looks like you have something to hide.
You did nothing wrong, but now you are facing a jury, months or maybe years after the fact and trying to explain why you did what you did when you did it. How does it look to the jury that you are bringing up facts about the case that were never in your report? Any competent defense lawyer is going to use the lack of detail in your report against you.
Something to remember is that a jury is a group of 12 licensed drivers, all equally fuzzy on the concept of the law, with no experience in the rigors and subtleties of policing.
Jurors are generally well meaning citizens, but their information comes from the local news or the latest "police reality" show, not from being students of the criminal justice system or practitioners of law enforcement. It is incumbent upon you to paint a word picture for the jury and others that will read your reports.
You can be the best shot, the fastest runner, an expert at interviewing, and look like a Marine recruiting poster in uniform, but without the ability to write a proper and factual report, it will all be for naught.
Evidence Collection The same can be said for evidence preservation. The evidence backs up your report and without it, you can be in deep trouble.Writing is one of the most important skills a law enforcement officer must have.
The ability to write an effective report is critical to your success, and I want to help you achieve the expertise you need to get your cases charged and make a difference. The Importance of Professional Writing Skills in Law Enforcement Accurate and intelligent reporting and documentation is crucial to Law Enforcement.
Police officers spend a significant amount of time completing paperwork necessary for the criminal justice process. If you’re a student in a police academy, you might be shown a video and asked to write a report about it. Let’s try it.
Click the link to read a news story about Philip Standefer, a police officer in Lubbock, Texas, who saved a driver’s life through quick thinking. Professional Report Writing for Law Enforcement Officers Menu Skip to content. Home; About Jean Reynolds; Ten Tips for Writing Reports Efficiently.
Try using these 10 tips the next time you write a police report, and you’ll be able to complete your paperwork more quickly and efficiently. Jul 21, · Report Writing for Police and Security pt. 1 Check out our patreon page and help us be a positive voice for Law Enforcement!
Leadership forum ~ Tips for Report Writing for Correctional. When you’re new to law enforcement, report writing can seem overwhelming: Every call is different and seems to require a different type of report. But after a while you’ll see that police calls and investigations fall into four categories.