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  • doublewhopper
    started a topic Dealing with reprimands

    Dealing with reprimands

    Here's my situation. It seems that as of late I have been getting reprimands for what I consider trivial issues. The last one being that I handed in a service report with errors on it. I was told to write a memo by my sgt to him. I am guessing so that he can show progressive discipline and suspend me a single day. I work hard, get good arrests and keep my head up. But for some reason all I think about off duty is scenarios running through my head. I can't see being suspended for making typos on reports even if it isn't the first time.

    How do some of you guys deal with a sgt riding your ***? If a suspension happens, do you file the grievance or eat it? Thanks.

  • sross112
    replied
    I'm the old guy in my squad and in the last batch of new guys there was one with a similar problem. Very motivated, heart in the right place, but errors all over the paperwork. He was getting beat up over it, and stopped by my house one night to ask what he should do after getting reprimanded. He was hurt and feeling betrayed because of all the work he does and getting hit for the clerical errors.

    My advice, and it seems as though I've given it out a bunch over the years, is the same as a lot of the others on this thread. SLOW DOWN!! The report is CRITICAL. You can keep yourself out of a lot of court and therefore on the road hunting bad guys by writing a clear, concise and chronological narrative with no mistakes. The lawyers look at your report and the professionalism of the report reflects directly on the professionalism of the job you did on the road and will do in court. He is much better now, but he started having another troop or his wife read and correct his reports before handing them in. Wives are great, especially for getting rid of the cop talk!

    Also, the second part of my advice I learned at a Street Survival Seminar years ago. Simply "Do not love your agency, as your agency CAN'T love you." Love your job, throw on your gear, saddle up and bring it every day. Remember why you took the job in the first place; whatever your personal reason is. That is what you go out there for. Not for the Colonel, the Major, the Captain, Lieutenant or Sergeant. You didn't take this job to make them happy, you took it for a much larger and more important reason or ideal. I'm not saying "f" the brass. You have to play by the policies and rules and such. You are much better off to do your job right, to their satisfaction, cross your t's and dot your i's. Then it is more time to chase the bad guys and less stress without looking over your shoulder.

    Don't ever be the guy that takes the heat off of everyone else in the squad!! Although every squad should have one of those around.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ralph8119
    replied
    I can't say since being out of circulation for over 17 years, is it true that most departments use Microsoft word spell check with their computers for their patrol reports, with that said their are correction made automatically, I carried a Websters dictionary in my briefcase in the stupid bad old days!
    Take you're time, think real hard of that case, ask you're partner if any, Show the desk Sergeant the report before submitting it!
    Last edited by Ralph8119; 06-22-2008, 10:38 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rev1
    replied
    Report writing is crucial to this job. What seems like a trivial error could lose you that good arrest if the case goes to trial.

    Make sure you are looking at this objectively and not personally. Remember, this is his job too.

    I proof read my officers' reports. Some get more attention than others simply because they have a harder time writing reports.

    As far as your reprimand goes, it's just part of the job. There are few of us on the job who haven't been reprimanded for something at some point. It's going to happen. If you make a lot of arrests, then you will no doubt have to write a lot of reports. If you write a lot of reports, then you increase your chances of making a mistake in one of those reports. Spelling, grammar, punctuation...whatever.

    Don't dwell on it.

    Look at it objectively and not personally.

    Buy a Thesaurus.

    Write like you talk. (Minus the cuss words.)

    DO NOT WRITE IN POLICE JARGON!!!! (Say "said" don't say "advised." You never tell your wife that your buddy "advised" you that he was going to the bar after work and wanted you to go with him. When you get back to your buddy you never say that your wife said "negative." If you do, then you have brain damage.)

    If it does indeed turn out to be a personal attack then just remember that he has a boss to whom he must answer. Hopefully you have union protection and you can get it sorted out.

    Good luck!

    Rev

    Leave a comment:


  • Smurfette_76
    replied
    Originally posted by mnbulldawg View Post
    Wow some of you are uptight!!!!!

    I don't think they are uptight, I think this isn't their first rodeo and they know the way it really is.


    Good luck, but don't take to much Sh** from the brass. We are the street cops we are the ones doing the work, we are the ones who are the saftey net for even them. Don't take it from the dirty brass. But fix what you are doing wrong. For the 15th time. DO NOT TAKE SH** from the BRASS. NONE zero

    Bad advice. Bad bad bad. It's not a matter of taking crap from anyone if he's in the wrong; which he has admitted he is.

    You can catch all the bad guys you'd like, but if you can't string together enough words to write a good report, you're going to be screwed on the bigger cases.

    And quite frankly, it's not just about you..some of us up from patrol have to read your report and take it from there. If you're not doing your job, you're making ours more difficult.

    Leave a comment:


  • sabrerattler
    replied
    Originally posted by doublewhopper View Post
    Wow, you guys have given me some excellent insight. I actually feel better about my situation. The kicker is when it comes to big jobs like investigations and big arrests my supervisor is there all the way, even to a fault. I run into trouble on nonsense like squad calls. "person feeling sick, squad arrived and took them to hospital, nothing further". Its only been a couple of times and months/years in between each occurance, thats why I just couldn't understand the blowup. I do understand where he is coming from though, if he wants to take it to the next level in progressive discipline. I just feel like its so meaningless. For christ sake this is the same guy I hunt with and do dip with.
    When people talk of termination for simple mistakes on reports I feel a little bit of disbelief. I have never heard of that. And it scares me a bit. Especially when I see the crazy verbage that they put on their disciplinary documents. I guess there is always tommorow to do a better job.

    From where I sit it seems like your sgt doesnt have much choice. He is trying to get your attention and until he does he has no choice. Remember If you are screwing up reports and he doesnt take corrective action then HE is the one in trouble. Believe me I have had sgt's on my a** as well. They can pick the smallist things to go after, like being 5 min late coming off 10-7 (lunch) but the quality of your reports is not one of these things. It has been said several time here, the quality of your reports are what makes the diffeance when you go to court, and THAT is were you get the conviction.

    Leave a comment:


  • mnbulldawg
    replied
    Wow some of you are uptight!!!!!

    Dude here it is:

    1. Read it out loud. I am not a smart guy this helps me a lot (if you are alone) or people will think you are a moron. Go slow, read it, look at it a few times.

    2. If you are getting yourself into hotwater and think its a bit over the top go a guy/gal you trust and see what can be done. I dont know what state you are in, but where I am If i get a letter or verbal I take it to the union.
    WHere I am we have some strong unions and dont put up with crap from admin.

    But dude, dates and times and CN or ICR # not right is a big deal. Reports are 90% of what we do. Make em fast and easy but make sure you got the stuff you NEED in them. easy as pie who, what, where, when, how. Did i miss one? haha

    Hey dude I was a cop for 4 years and a SGT asked me if I thought i wrote good reports. I said ahh so so. He told me if i wanted to I could get paid to go to a report writting class. I went with a bunch of cops, it was fun I learned a lot. I am sure you have something like that where you are bro.


    Good luck, but don't take to much Sh** from the brass. We are the street cops we are the ones doing the work, we are the ones who are the saftey net for even them. Don't take it from the dirty brass. But fix what you are doing wrong. For the 15th time. DO NOT TAKE SH** from the BRASS. NONE zero

    Good luck again bro

    Leave a comment:


  • cubswin
    replied
    I agree with many of the previous posts, no matter how painful it is; report writing / documenting IS the job. In a couple of years from now when you are in court with a defendant who you can hardly remember, the only record of your actions is the report that was written. The report and your professional testimony regarding the events can be the difference between a defendant going to prison and going back to the street.

    Leave a comment:


  • ARSONCOP
    replied
    Sounds like you are taking all this information to heart and its helping. A great learning tool I had when I started was a senior investigator (who also had a masters in literature) gave me copies of some of his old reports to read and get ideas from.

    Remember Spell Check is your friend.

    Leave a comment:


  • elusive
    replied
    my initial assumption is that your errors have been an ongoing thing and it finally put your sarge to the breaking point. Just be thorough in your reports and everyone will be happy including you.

    Theres no point to making a good arrest if the follow up paperwork is junk.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputySC
    replied
    If you do them on a computer it should be easier. Its easier to correct mistakes and go back and change things before submitting. You got to proof read your stuff before sending it up. I cant see getting written up for mistakes on reports unless its just a serious issue where about all of your reports are messed up all of the time and make no sense. It sounds like that might be the case.

    I dont know what reporting system you guys have. We do ours on the computers in our cars. Once done, we submit them to our supervisers to review and they can approve them or kick them back. Its almost impossible to make mistakes. All fields on a report is required, but some of the very much so "REQUIRED" fields are highlighted and if there is nothing in said field then the report wont submit until its the information is in it. Also, if dates, times, or other numbers are not in the correct format the report will not submit for review. They also have spell check that catches all my spelling errors which is ALOT. God forbid I have to hand write reports again. I would be in a world of trouble with my spelling skills.
    Last edited by DeputySC; 06-20-2008, 06:03 AM.

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  • doublewhopper
    replied
    So far, no suspension and was told by my pba pres that there will be no action taken, and that the sgt just wanted to make me stay late to type a memo to him. But I do believe that he is keeping it.

    I had some reports today to do and I had caught 4 errors on them. only after I printed them out 4 times!! yikes. before handing them in. One was the date of 06/18/08. I couldn't believe that I read right over it without picking it up 3 times!!! Thanks for the advice everyone.

    Leave a comment:


  • Resq14
    replied
    First off, reports are important. Aside from our brains, our pens/typing fingers are our most-frequently used tools. We should all strive for perfection and self-improvement in all we do, including our documentation and paperwork. The suggestions above are great.

    With that said...

    Originally posted by hemicop View Post
    I had the same thing happen to me. Transfer before it's an issue. They're building a "book" on you so as to limit your transfer or promotion possibilities. I was too late on it & was told "The only way you'll leave is if you retire" So guess what........
    I agree. Constructive criticism is one thing, but this ain't it. It would seem to me there is something else going on... and there's definetly a paper trail being built.

    I've never heard of a suspension for typos, nor would I EVER consider such a crazy measure. There are far more effective ways to address this type of issue as a supervisor.

    If the typos are truly the problem here, the supervisor is taking the easy way out with this knee-jerk reaction... (and it wouldn't fly in my area).

    Leave a comment:


  • ateamer
    replied
    This is what I teach my trainees (on my 24th one right now): A good report starts with a good interview and good field notes. Before you interview, get all the name-rank-and-horsepower information you will need for the face sheet, or whatever you call the form on the front of a report. When you interview someone, let him or her tell the story all the way through with little interruption and you write few notes. When you do write something down, leave four or five blank lines in between each line you write. Have the witness repeat the statement, but this time, you stop him when needed to write detailed notes. After that, ask questions to fill in any blanks. Then tell him the whole thing as you understand it, and add any more information that he gives you.

    Before you even sit down to write the report, think about how you are going to organize it. Write the narrative first. That is what your mind is on, and when you fill out the face sheet and other forms first, you are often distracted and focused on the narrative, and it leads to boxes not being filled in. The face sheet is go-to-the-freezer-get-the-box stuff, and can wait.

    After you write the narrative, don't proofread it. Save it, leave it up on your screen and fill out the face sheet and any other forms. Then get up, go use the head, have a smoke or something for a couple minutes. Now you can sit back down and proofread. You will find a lot more items needing correction this way, because you have cleared your mind with other tasks.

    While you are still having issues with your sergeant, it would be a good idea to have someone else proofread your reports as well. See if an FTO will do it - if they aren't working with a trainee at the moment, they should be more than willing to help.

    Leave a comment:


  • CityCopDC
    replied
    Originally posted by doublewhopper View Post
    Here's my situation. It seems that as of late I have been getting reprimands for what I consider trivial issues. The last one being that I handed in a service report with errors on it. I was told to write a memo by my sgt to him. I am guessing so that he can show progressive discipline and suspend me a single day. I work hard, get good arrests and keep my head up. But for some reason all I think about off duty is scenarios running through my head. I can't see being suspended for making typos on reports even if it isn't the first time.

    How do some of you guys deal with a sgt riding your ***? If a suspension happens, do you file the grievance or eat it? Thanks.
    Dude, take your time with the reports.
    Last edited by CityCopDC; 06-17-2008, 11:06 PM.

    Leave a comment:

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