Criminal Justice Information Compliance and Innovation

PRI Management Group
August 2016

It’s 2016 and we’re still talking about police reports written in the 3rd person.  After reading literally thousands upon thousands of police reports in our work as police records consultants and auditors, we’ve seen our fair share of good, bad, confusing and downright misleading police reports.

Writing a good report is simple once you get the model down- tell a chronological story of the investigation from beginning to end , include the 5W’s and H, and write in first person.

Think in terms of telling a description of what happened as follows:

  • Description of the event
  • Victim statements, witness statements, suspect or offender statements
  • Who else was involved
  • What property was involved
  • What vehicles were involved
  • What you observed
  • What actions you took
  • What actions others took

And please for the sake of all who read your reports, make it easy and start referring to people in the narrative according to their roles ie. V-1 (Smith), V-2 (Jones), W-1(Alvarez), etc. etc. etc.

SAMPLE LANGUAGE:

“I responded to the incident location regarding a burglary to the residence. Upon arrival I met with the resident, V-1(Smith) who stated he arrived home from work at approximately 1900 hours and observed his front door smashed in….”

And last but not least, please don’t confuse your readers by referring to yourself as “this officer”.  This article says why.