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  • #16
    The best teacher for a poorly written report is a defense attorney.

    I personally think that documentation and report writing is a skill that many of our newest don't appreciate. It's not the adreline dump, running, jumping, tackling thrill that the arrest can be and therefore is often neglected. Unfortunately, an arrest is merely the beginning (oftentimes, the middle) of a case and much more work has to be done before a conviction is made. It's the conviction they should be after, not the instant gratification. Experience is the best teacher much of the time.
    sigpic

    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

    Comment


    • #17
      Good suggestions, all!

      One thing that has tripped me up on occasion is my lack of ability to accurately proof read something displayed on a computer screen... don't know if it's because I'm an OLD geezer who originally learned from reading the printed page, or what.

      I can proof a report carefully on screen, only to find an error that just jumps off the printed page when I do a final proof before stapling it all together to submit.

      I strongly suggest that you take the time for that one last proof reading of the printed copy! It has saved me from some embarrasing mistakes.
      Living the Dream... One Day at a Time!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by mikeymedic View Post
        Write your report in a way that the person reading it can know every thing you: saw, smelt, felt, and heard.
        That's exactly how I was taught.

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        • #19
          1. No third person crap.

          2. Tell a story and avoid police jargon. (I detected a strong odor of an fermented beverage = bad) (I smelled the odor of beer = good).

          3. Write in a chronological order but avoid actually saying what order things are in and just write normal paragraphs.

          Bad Example:

          The suspect shot the first victim in the face.

          At this time the second victim tried to stop the suspect but was shot in the face as well.

          (Don't do that its already apparent what is happening next by the sheer fact its the next paragraph.)

          Good Example:

          The first victim was shot in the face by the suspect. The second victim tried to stop the suspect but was also shot in the face.

          (Flows much better).

          4. Know the difference between: there, they're, and their.

          5.
          Know the difference between: to, too, and two.

          6.
          Know the difference between: its and it's (not the same thing).

          7.
          It's okay to use direct quotes of importance from statements made by suspects, victims, and witnesses.

          8. Re-read a report after it is written, and use spell checker.

          9. Use proper paragraphs, white space is a good thing.

          10. Does the report answer all the pertinent questions? Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
          Last edited by nonickname69; 10-25-2009, 10:24 PM.

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          • #20
            And always remember anything you write is discoverable by the defense.

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            • #21
              I usualy try to use first names after I've established the persons full name in the narrative. So for example Mary Jones is referred to as Mary throughout the report. This is extremely helpful when dealing with family members all having the same last name.

              Be careful not to start all your sentences with -Mary said. Then the next sentence Mary said. Some of my Deps do this and it drives me nuts.
              "Lay there and bleed awhile before you feel some real pain."

              "Have a cup of coffee, a pall mall, and relax!"

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              • #22
                I interviewed the caller Mary Jones. "Mary said that she went into the living room and looked out the window. She saw a man running north on the street.

                Not--

                Mary said she went into the living room and looked out the window. Mary said she saw a man running north on the street.

                It doesn't sound as bad here but imagine if you had "Mary said" x5 or 6 in a row.
                "Lay there and bleed awhile before you feel some real pain."

                "Have a cup of coffee, a pall mall, and relax!"

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                • #23
                  You have already established that you are interviewing Mary Jones so it is a given that the following is what she has told you.

                  Reports are written differently depending on your department or what part of the country you are from. Funny story.

                  I was in Chicago for training and there were other officers there from all over the country. We were telling war stories. In my story I said "I had a subject in custody for 5400-2 and to roll me a hook." This officer from Oregon who was originally from Texas looked at me strange and said "Whats a hook?" A wrecker. Oh he says, "You mean a tow." I said, "No I mean a hook a toe is the thing at the end of my foot."
                  "Lay there and bleed awhile before you feel some real pain."

                  "Have a cup of coffee, a pall mall, and relax!"

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                  • #24
                    Anything you put on paper, including scratch notes, is material a defense attorney is allowed to review to look for inconsistancies, etc., in preparing the defense of his client. Which is why KISS is important.
                    Last edited by Dinosaur32; 10-26-2009, 07:15 AM. Reason: caps lock

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                    • #25
                      I was trained differently when using names in reports. We were told to use last names, and if you have more than one person with the same last name, we were told to add the first initial with them.

                      Oh, and I always destroy my notes/recordings when my report is finished... That way the defense attorney can't get them and just has my report to look at... Not that he/she would be able to read my scribbles anyway.

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                      • #26
                        We don't have a set method of doing reports at our department. Usually on something that is quite involved, I start with a summary of what happened, so the Lt. and the DA can read the first paragraph and have an idea of why I went there, what happened and what the solution was. I next break it down into chronological order, and start a new 'titled' paragraph with each step in the investigation. For example "Incident Summary", "Initial Observations", "Investigation at Site A", "Investigation at Site B", "Interview of Person A","Arrest of Person A". I like this way because it helps me keep the order of things that happened, but someone can read the first paragraph and get an overview of what happened.
                        "My faith, my country and my family will guide me; nothing more, nothing less" -Gen. Tommy Franks

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                        • #27
                          Last edited by Nobody; 11-06-2009, 04:58 PM.

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                          • #28
                            Can't destroy your notes in NY........you'd be grist for the mill with any decent attorney. And subject to discipline on complaint of ADA.

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                            • #29
                              I can't stand reports that read victim 1, suspect 2, or whatever...the only thing worse is V1, R1, S1. Oy. Use their NAME!!!
                              sigpic

                              I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                                I can't stand reports that read victim 1, suspect 2, or whatever...the only thing worse is V1, R1, S1. Oy. Use their NAME!!!
                                Thats how we have to write them, it drives me up a wall. Nothing like writing up a traffic accident with vehicle1, vehicle2, then having to add victim1..... witnes 1....subject1....., and persons related1..... I have had many reports that even I do not get after writing them, it's like the report IS the accident.
                                It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

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