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How To Write A Proper Police Report

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

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

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.

Lost Property Report Template

Users may download these formats with immense ease. They can use these formats in the process of making a general structure of a complaint register. These templates have a super responsive feature and a great resolution range. The templates are very easily navigable. The user may make changes and feed in information as per requirement. They can come in the form of word doc or a PDF. You may also see Report Formats.

Use Spelling And Grammar Checkers

Over the past five years, I have read thousands of police reports from around the United States. Many of these reports are packed full of simple grammar and spelling mistakes that a word processors spellcheck would have caught.

I know that many of these agencies, including mine, use Microsoft Word’s spellcheck feature. So why do we continue making basic spelling and grammar mistakes? I decided to do some digging, and each time I read an exceptionally bad report, I called the agency, not to complain or call them out, but to ask questions. I found that most poorly written reports from 2010 to the present day share three traits:

  • The officer wrote the report directly in the agencys records management system
  • The officer did not configure spellcheck or,
  • The officer wrote in UPPERCASE.
  • RMS spell checkers are improving, especially in the new AI integrated RMS 3.0 versions. But as of right now, even the most basic version of Microsoft’s Word spellcheck outperforms any RMS spellchecker. Try to write your report in a word processor first, then copy and paste it into your agency’s RMS.

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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.

    Points Of View In Police Reports

    United Nations Peacekeeping Missions: REPORT WRITING FORMAT OF CLA (HOW ...

    Depending on the situation, you may either be a person working in law enforcement required to write police reports or a civilian made to file a report at a police station. In both instances, they require providing and documenting information about an untoward incident or a crime.

    Law Enforcer:Victim:Suspect:Witness:

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    You Can Also Go Online To File A Supplemental Report

    File a supplemental report if you want to add information to your original report or to a report that has previously been filed by an SFPD officer. To file a supplemental police report, click on the “File a Police Report” link above, select the appropriate incident type, follow the prompted questions, and select ‘supplemental report’ when prompted.

    Use the supplemental report method to report:

    • Additional property losses from the same crime
    • Additional details to describe stolen property, such as a serial number.

    When you have finished entering your report, a temporary report will be emailed to you. This report will not be official until it is approved. Once that happens, we will email you an official copy.

    Basic Factual Information In A Police Report

    Your police report is going to have labeled information fields for you to list basic factual information. Those fields are there for a purpose other than balancing the graphic design of the report. Youll work with officers who think N/A, none, and slash / marks should fill the majority of these fields. The completeness and accuracy of basic factual information is important for a host of reasons including making you look competent.

    For example: Follow-up contact with a victim is important. Your victim tells you he has no telephone. Before you write in that box, ask for a relatives or friends number through which the victim be contacted. Ninety-nine percent of the time your victim will be able to provide you with a phone number.

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    Include An Action Item Or Status

    This is for law enforcers who are tasked to respond to various complaints and reports. A report may indicate the action that was taken or is yet to be taken. For a systematic and efficient process, a police report or investigation may be labeled as on-going, closed or pending. Documentation is important in any organizational process this also makes it easier for authorities to prioritize reports and records.

    Information To Include In Your Witness Statement

    How To Write A Security Incident Report

    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

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    Making A Witness Statement And Who Gets A Copy

    Police may audio or video tape you when you are giving your statement. They may ask you to write down what you told them or they may write it for you.

    Police will ask you to read the statement and sign it. It is important that you read the written statement and confirm it is completely accurate before you sign it because you may be asked about it as a witness in court. If you realize that you missed something after you signed the statement, provide the information to police as soon as you can. You can ask for a copy of your statement.

    Some of the questions the police ask may make you feel uncomfortable. You may wonder why they are important. But things that do not seem important to you do end up helping police arrest someone.

    A copy of the witness statement is usually given only to Crown and defence counsel, who can ask questions about your statement at the trial. Defence counsel will likely give a copy of the witness statement to the accused as they prepare for trial.

    Estimating Time Can Be A Problem

    Youll also learn that people badly estimate time by either underestimation or overestimation. For example: Youre interviewing the victim of a street robbery. The victim tells you she can identify the suspect, because she got a good look at him. You ask her how long she looked at his face, and she replies, About a minute. While shes not lying, it should be obvious to you that shes probably overestimating the time.

    One minute is a very long time. A little more effort by you will bring that down to a more realistic observation measured in seconds. You may not think its an important detail, but that detail could be important if the case gets to trial. The defendants attorney will make the jury aware of how long a minute can be.

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    Are Police Reports Confidential

    It depends on the governing laws of the state. Generally, police reports are considered public records and certain records should be made accessible to the public. However, some sensitive information or cases require discretion and may not be readily or easily disclosed without proper authorization.

    Crimes can range from petty misdemeanors to major offenses. Whether its a traffic violation, a robbery with assault, or a double homicide, police reports are crucial in establishing the facts needed to help an investigation move forward and ultimately, preserve justice and order. Browse any of the printable templates and downloadable samples above to help you get started on your report!

    Purposes Of Police Reports

    9+ Police Report Templates

    Indeed police reports are crucial and significant as an Investigation Report Template. They are important documentation tools used by the police force for speedy resolution of cases. It also serves as a feedback mechanism that will help improve how our policemen deal with crimes.

    The reports are considered as the building blocks for a successful investigation. They must be treated with utmost diligence and care.

    Here are some of the common uses of police reports based we found:

    • Police reports are used by prosecutors to determine if there is probable cause or if there is sufficient reason for a case to be filed.
    • It is used for documentation purposes.
    • It is as basis for further investigation

    But one has to take note that each country has their own rules of procedure regarding police reports. You must take into account what your laws say and then choose from the template, whichever is legal and applicable.

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    How To Write A Police Report

    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 11 testimonials and 82% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 974,820 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.

    How To Master Report Writing

    November 22, 2010 by Amaury MurgadoBookmark +

    Whenever anyone talks about report writing, images of my academy class and the boring report writing segment always comes to mind. What I didn’t know then, but know now, is just how important report writing really is.

    As first responders, we consistently spend more time writing reports than on any other single task in law enforcement. The only thing that beats it is probably driving around patrolling our zones. And yet, beyond the academy, we get very little training in writing, period. We are just supposed to fumble through and learn other aspects of technical writing on our own. Because of this, we need to find a way of writing reports that will serve us well throughout our entire career.

    As a report writing instructor, I am motivated by a school seal that belongs to the Philips Academy, better known as Andover. Andover is a prep school that was established during the American Revolution and is one of the oldest boarding schools in the country. The school seal was crafted by Paul Revere and includes the Latin phrase, “Finis Origine Pendet,” which translates to the end depends on the beginning. The beginning is the focus of this commentary and it will cover the process of report writing.

    Question of Style

    Journalistic Approach

    How You Got the Call

    What They Said

    What You Observed

    What You Did

    General Tips

    Putting it All Together

    Closing Thoughts

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    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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  • Nate
  • I couldnt locate your links to actual police reports posted on line. Pls advise.


  • Hello Jean, This is a fantastic site. I am from the UK, and I am currently going through the selection process to become a police officer. One of the activities I need to do is to write an incident report and this has been a massive help to me.

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice? The incident report I have to write, will need to be written based on a series of fictitious memos and emails. I have 30 minutes to complete this report and Its likely I will be dealing with four different accounts of what happened. I am trying to find a structure that I can work with that will allow me pass this part of the recruitment process. I am really worried about this, and could do with some good advice. I have an example of what I have to do if that helps?


  • Youre an excellent writer! The big issue I think you should deal with is inefficiency. Police officers are busy. Omit words that are just empty fillers. You dont need to say by the name of. Omit the duty officer asked,The officer asked if her could provide any further details of the suspects and similar statements. Just record what the suspect said. The purpose of a report is to record facts that will be useful for an investigation and possible prosecution. The duty officers questions just waste time and wont be useful later.

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    Are Police Records Kept Available Online

    No, they are not. Police records are not a part of the court system, so it is not readily available for everybody to look into. This also means the documents are not posted online for viewing as well.

    Making a well-written report is crucial in solving the case and ending on a good note. Whether it is a report on a stolen car or something a lot more serious, we hope you can write a police report with the tips mentioned above. If you need any more ideas on writing one, feel free to browse through our incident reports and summary templates as a guide for you.

    Ten Tips For Writing Reports Efficiently

    Try using these 10 tips the next time you write a police report, and youll be able to complete your paperwork more quickly and efficiently. And thats only one of the benefits. Anyone who reads your report will be impressed by your professionalism and writing ability. You will have avoided outdated wordiness that characterizes so much police writing.

    1. Use names and pronouns when you write about yourself and others at the scene. Avoid outdated expressions like this officer and the abovementioned witness or victim 1.

    In the past some officers were taught that impersonal terminology guaranteed objectivity and accuracy. Not true! You have the same integrity whether youre calling yourself I or this officer. And think about this: if you were testifying in court, and sworn to tell the truth, you would use everyday language in your testimony. Follow the same practice in your reports.

    2. Limit yourself to one idea per sentence.

    Short, straightforward sentences are easy to read and understand, saving time for everyone. The longer a sentence is, the more likely you are to make an error.

    3. Start every sentence with a person, place, or thing.

    Normal sentence structure in English begins with a noun, and the grammar is simple: Just put a period at the end. Complicated sentences, on the other hand, require complicated punctuation, and they open the door to sentence errors.

    4. Try to limit yourself to three commas per sentence.

    5. Be as clear and specific as possible.

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