Sunday, February 25, 2024

How To Write A Good Police Report

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Take Note Of Those Involved

Better Police Reports: Professional Sentences

Another essential detail to take note of in your police report is to write down the information of the people who filed the report. It could be the victim themselves, an associate of theirs, or a bystander who saw the event. Take their information as well so that you can follow up on them for any more details.

Fill In The Basic Details

Before your start narrating the incident, establish the key details first. This includes the name of the one filing the report, date, time, contact information, location and other relevant details that authorities might need. Providing accurate details is essential in keeping all police reports organized and correctly filed.

Simple Ways To Instantly Improve Your Report Writing

Tactics keep you alive, but report writing keeps you out of trouble

This article is part of a series, Report Writing for a New Generation: Merging Technology with Traditional Techniques, which covers general police report writing skills along with plain English instruction, professional and technical writing best practices, and how technology is changing the way officers write.

The series is exclusive content for Police1 members. Not a member? Register here. It is free and easy!

Last year, I attended a weeklong regional technical training course tailored for first-line supervisors. The course covered best practices in managing large-scale chaotic scenes and conducting after-action reviews. After the training, I spoke to one of the instructors, a retired LEO, for more information on after-action reports. I was quickly met with an interesting and borderline discouraging comment: “Officer’s don’t care about reports they care about tactics. Focus on tactics, and someone else will do the after-action report.”

“Officers don’t care about reports they care about tactics.” Was that statement true?

My colleagues were in the same boat: lots of tactics training with little to no police report writing training.

Tactics keep you alive, but a well-written police report keeps you out of trouble however, report writing is something most agencies dismiss as an important officer survival skill.

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Facing Charges We Can Help

If you were accused of a crime, one of the first things our lawyers will do is examine the police report filed against you. We can scrutinize the details of the report and find ways to minimize your charges and penalties as a result. To get started on your defense, get in touch with our attorneys online or at 574-7919.

How To Write A Police Report

Printable Sample Police Report Template Form

This article was co-authored by Saul Jaeger, MS. Saul Jaeger is a Police Officer and Captain of the Mountain View, California Police Department . Saul has over 17 years of experience as a patrol officer, field training officer, traffic officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and as the traffic units sergeant and Public Information Officer for the MVPD. At the MVPD, in addition to commanding the Field Operations Division, Saul has also led the Communications Center and the Crisis Negotiation Team. He earned an MS in Emergency Services Management from the California State University, Long Beach in 2008 and a BS in Administration of Justice from the University of Phoenix in 2006. He also earned a Corporate Innovation LEAD Certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2018.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 12 testimonials and 81% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,017,940 times.

If you’re a police officer or security guard, knowing how to write up a detailed and accurate report is important. A well written incident report gives a thorough account of what happened and sticks to the facts. If you’re trying to write a police report, or are curious about how the police put together their reports, learning what to include and how to format the report is helpful.

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How Not To Write A Police Report

You’ve probably spent a lot of time learning how to write police reports. Why not take a look at what NOT to do when you write a report? This PowerPoint reviews basic principles officers need to think about when writing reports.

You’ve probably spent a lot of time learning how to write police reports. Why not take a look at what NOT to do when you write a report? This PowerPoint reviews basic principles officers need to think about when writing reports.

+ Sample Police Reports In Pdf

Popular crime and forensic shows like CSI have made the police procedural genre mainstream. One widely popular television series is the police procedural comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The shows main protagonist Detective Jake Peralta is the type to prefer being out in the streets where all the action is. He absolutely loathes desk duty . To him, sitting in the office wasting away on his computer is a complete waste of time when he could be out in the field arresting the bad guys. It is fun and entertaining to watch a bunch of New York City police officers get into all kinds of trouble. However, in the real world, the boring paperwork actually serves a higher purpose. Police reports are an integral part of the systems and processes of law enforcement.

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Almost Anyone Who Meets Law Enforcement Entrance Requirements Can Learn To Write Effective Reports

Useful Opportunities

Picture an officer typing on a laptop in a patrol car late at night. It is easy to understand why people often describe writing as a solitary activity. However, from another perspective writing appears communal. Peoples lives are filled with language activities, and the constant flow of words means that opportunities to sharpen writing skills exist everywhere.

Whether officers serve as cadets, instructors, supervisors, or seasoned officers, they already have encountered a wealth of language experiences. It is important to be generous with sharing expertise and seeking opportunities to sharpen skills and expand knowledge. This will benefit the individuals reports, as well as the organization and fellow officers.

Dr. Reynolds may be contacted at


1 William L. Harvey, Leadership Quotes and Police Truisms,Law Enforcement Technology, July 1, 2015, 44, accessed December 9, 2016, Rebecca Kanable, Getting it Right: Convictions Require Good Report Writing,Law Enforcement Technology, September 1, 2005, accessed December 9, 2016, Amaury Murgado, How to Master Report Writing,Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine, November 22, 2010, accessed December 9, 2016,

Bonus Content: How To Train Your Ear To Catch Writing Mistakes

Report Writing for Police and Security pt. 1

If you spend time training your ear for writing, you will catch even more mistakes. An excellent way to train your ear for good sentence structure and grammar is to read good literature aloud. I recommend The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov not because it is an enjoyable read but because his sentences are as close to perfect as they come, and he really focuses on the sound of a sentence. Read one page a day aloud. Ignore the content, just listen to the words and sounds. Your mind will automatically notice sentence parallelism, assonance, rhythm and alliteration all critical features of a good sentence. When you read your police report aloud, your ear will suddenly pick up the smaller mistakes in your writing.

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Information To Include In Your Witness Statement

If you decide to report the crime to the police, they will need all the details you can remember. The police will ask you questions including:

  • Your name, address and contact number
  • The exact time and location where the crime took place
  • Names and addresses of the people involved, if you know them
  • A description of each of the people who were involved in the crime – hair color and length, build/weight, height, female or male and race
  • A description of what you saw
  • If a vehicle was involved, the licence plate number, color and type of vehicle and any injuries

What Is A Police Report

A police report is an important document stating a record of a criminal incident, such as assault, identify theft, or robbery, for example. Any representative in the police department can write a police report. Making a report needs to be dangerous because it involves legal procedures. The law enforcement team also writes them after someone reports an accident or crime to them.

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After Signing The Witness Statement

The police may take you to the scene of the crime if they need to ask further questions. Also, if you do not know the person you saw commit the crime, you may be asked to pick out the person from a line up of people, describe what the person looked like to an artist or look through photographs .

Also, if you had any injuries, the police may take pictures so your injuries can be used as evidence later. If you do have injuries, you may wish to visit the victim of crime section.

Where Should I Begin The Police Report

5 Sample Police Reports

For the writer, the incident starts when they first arrive on the scene. For the victim, it is when they first realize they are the victim. For the witness, it is when they first see the action that makes them a witness. Of course, for the suspect, it is when they make that conscious decision to commit the crime. True chronological order means the order in which the events actually occurred.

Many reports begin this way:

While on patrol, I received a call to . Upon my arrival, I spoke to the victim, who said…

This format is told in the order in which the events occurred to the writer. It can work and has worked since report writing began, in simple cases with few principles, facts and evidence. In these cases, it is easy to use and can be understood fairly well.

The problems in clarity occur when there are multiple principals, a significant amount of evidence and events occurred over a longer time period of time.

You know youre having problems organizing the report when it’s unclear where or how to begin the report.

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Back 2 Basics: How To Write A Good Police Report

faculty member, Criminal Justice with American Military University andBruce Razey, 35-year police veteran

Good police writing has been commonly described as clear, concise, and well-organized. However, what does that mean? As police supervisors with over 50 years combined service, we found that you cannot leave the interpretation of those words up in the air. As an example, we once received a report from an officer claiming it was clear, concise, and well-organized, and to some extent he was correct.

The report consisted of three words, Nailed, jailed, and bailed.

This humorous report became legendary in our department. We learned that to encourage good police report writing, it required that we define what it means for reports and documents to be clear, concise and well-organized. Here are examples about how to write a police report so it is clear, concise and well-organized.

CLEAR: For a police report to be clear, it must properly identify the persons, places and/or things relevant to the crime.

Poor Example: Victim states three acquaintances struck him at the shopping center. One hit him with a bat and then they pushed him down in the parking lot. He admitted it, but she said she was not involved.

CONCISE: This means using the most precise wording to describe the crime and how it occurred while still answering the 5 Ws and H that are available .

About the Authors:

Read Your Report Aloud

The best advice I ever received in school is to read reports aloud. Even if your spoken grammar is not perfect, reading your report aloud will help you catch many small grammar and sentence mistakes not caught by spellcheck. If a sentence sounds weird, change it. Nine times out of 10, you will be correct.

Just remember, you don’t need to read LOUD, just aloud. Be courteous of those around you by just whispering.

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Sign And Add A Disclaimer

At the end of your report, make sure there is enough space for the author to affix a signature. You may also include a brief truth disclaimer stating that all the information provided above are facts you know to be true, is in no way false or misleading, and are stated to the best of your ability and memory.

Police Officers Often Write Reports Using The First Person

How To Become A Police Officer, Lesson 7, Police Report Writing

Most police reports are written in the first person. The police officer is telling the story of what happened to them. Unfortunately, this is a backwards report. Police records often start with, I responded to a crime, I talked to the victim and they said. and it goes on with the writer telling us what happened to them, the writer. This can make for a confusing story, as it is told from back to front. Rarely do we tell the story from the true beginning to end, unless we were there when it started. How often does that happen? Right…rarely!

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Acquiring And Using A Police Report

If an incident, accident or crime had happened and one or more police officers had responded, then a police report was most likely created. If you are involved in the incident or are one of the victims of the crime, you are entitled to get a copy of the said report. To be able to obtain a copy of the report, youd have to contact the responding agency soon after the incident.

Find the contact details of the law enforcement agency and give them a call to ask for a copy of the police report template. You may have to pay a minimal fee and appear at the agency in person to get the report.

Though a police report isnt acceptable in proceedings in the civil court, you may be able to use it as leverage in negotiating for any personal injury arguments for your own advantage.

Aside from this, you can use the information on the report to settle discussions in the event of an accident. Through the statements of the witnesses, you can determine who was at fault and who is responsible for the occurrence. The report would also contain contact details of the witnesses so you can give them a call if needed. Now lets move on to learn why police reports are so important.

Tell The Incident Story Backward

This format is not what I would call a report. It is a statement from the writer saying what happened to them. In fact, in most cases, the crime has already occurred and the writer is telling the story backward. When asked why they write this way, many report writers will state that they dont want to make it look like they are making it up they want to emphasize where they received the information.

I have a simple startup paragraph that relieves this concern and makes it clear where the information came from:

I, , on received a call to reference to . My investigation revealed the following information.

This one short paragraph is interpreted to mean you talked to all the parties involved and examined the evidence. A report is not a statement of what the writer did . A report tells the story of what happened, based on the investigation.

Some writers are concerned about being required to testify about what the report revealed. This is not a concern. You only testify to what you did, heard or saw.

When a witness tells you what they saw, you cannot testify to those facts, only that they said it to you. Their information should be thoroughly documented in their own written statements. Each witness, victim or suspect will testify to their own part in the case. Crime scene technicians and experts will testify to the evidence and how it relates to the case.

The investigating officer that writes the report is one of those crayons.

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How To Write An Incident Report

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 19 testimonials and 82% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,106,434 times.

If you’re a security guard or police officer deployed to the scene of an incident, writing up a detailed and accurate report is an important part of doing your job correctly. A good incident report gives a thorough account of what happened without glossing over unsavory information or leaving out important facts. It’s crucial to follow the appropriate protocol, describe the incident clearly, and submit a polished report.

The Details Of The Victim

Sample Police Report Template

The details of the victim have to be included such as the name, race, physical appearance, date of birth, home address, marital status, social security number and the relationship of the person to the perpetrator of the one reporting the crime. If there has been any damage done to their property or if any property belonging to the victim has been used to commit the crime, it has to be placed as a separate note or in a separate section.

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Words That Should Never Appear In Your Police Report

You know what I mean. You know it when you see it, but it is hard to define. Look at TV and movie stars. We all know who is pretty or handsome. What makes it so? We all agree, but we cannot describe it. We can point to examples. If you have the talent, you can draw it. Most people do not know what it is, but most of us fail to really think about it.

Well, here it is. It is organization. When you look at a person, your brain values the organization of the face. Is it balanced? Are the eyes even? Are the ears the right size for the head? Are the features balanced? This is a similar approach as police report writing software, which looks for organization and balance.

Back to our police reports. What is it that the supervisor is subconsciously picking up on in your report? It is the organization. If it is not organized, the supervisor sees it. So how do you fix it? Get organized!

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