Administrative reports are important.  Any
organization, including a police department, needs a
comprehensive and efficient administrative reporting
system to ensure the integrity and accountability of
people and procedures.

If you join a police department where the
administrative functions are efficient and well
staffed, you will not be overwhelmed with a lot of
needlessly redundant administrative reports.  When
I began my police career, I experienced an
extremely efficient system.  The department's
Planning and Research Division had total control
over all reports utilized by the department.  No
division, district, or unit could create and utilize any
report without the review and approval of the P&R
Division.  When a report form was submitted for
review, the P&R Division's review was not just a
simple formality.  If the submission showed merit, it
would go through a thorough review and revision
process.  Once accepted, the report would be
assigned a form number, and it would be instituted
department wide.

Unfortunately, you're entering your police career at
a time when the
thinking out of the box gang is on
a roll.  There's more money available to police
departments today than ever before.  The explosion
in new technology and the availability of federal
grant money for implementing programs to study
every aspect of law enforcement, from the
reasonable to the absurd, has created an
administrative nightmare.  
I used this example, because it's quite likely you'll
find yourself submitting this, and other, equally
questionable reports.  You could get lucky.  You
might find yourself working in a department where
continuity is important, and statistical information
reports have been well thought out ahead of time.  
In this environment, the department's computerized
portion of its information system will be configured
to provide any number of valuable, and accurate,

While you'll undoubtedly be burdened with your
share of providing information better tracked and
compiled from other sources, you must remember
that every report, administrative or otherwise, is a
direct representation of your integrity.  
Anything...and I mean anything you write as a
police officer is subject to the same standards of
truthfulness and the continued maintenance of your

The Important Reports

There will probably come a time when you'll be
directed to submit an administrative report detailing
your observations regarding the conduct of another
or other police officers.  Here's where the
administrative report can become one most difficult
and gut wrenching experience.  

You'll soon realize that there are so many ways for
a police officer to get into trouble.  Allegations of
discourtesy and excessive force are the two most
common instances where you could find yourself
writing an administrative report detailing your
observations.  It will be quite easy if your
observations can truthfully dispel an allegation of
either; however, if your observations in any way
supports the allegation, the preparation of your
required administrative report can become one of
the most miserable experiences of your career.  

Unfortunately, you'll find yourself witnessing
conduct between, or among, police officers which
ultimately results in police officers making
allegations of misconduct against other police
officers.  One of the most serious allegations will be
sexual harassment.  You'll also find that police
departments are not immune to the excesses of
political correctness which generates complaints
over just about anything.   Whatever the instance
may be, when you're directed to submit an
administrative report detailing your observations,
you must write that report just like any other...the
facts, and just the facts.  
Your district/precinct commander requires a
monthly report listing all arrests, with detailed
information, i.e. date; time; charges; etc., made by
officers in his or her district/precinct.  It's a
perfectly reasonable requirement; however, the way
that report is generated determines the accuracy of
the report.

In this case, sergeants are directed to submit the
required reporting.  In turn, the sergeants direct
individual officers under their supervision to submit
the required information to them for each officer's
arrest activities for the time period.

Can you see where I'm going with this?  Let's say
there's 50 patrol officers per shift times three for
150 reports.  Can you even begin to imagine how
inaccurate the final report will be.  To say the
number of arrests will be exaggerated would be an
understatement.  No matter how many officers are
involved in an arrest, there is only one arresting
officer.  This will be a distinction lost on many police
officers when they submit their arrest data.

Computerized arrest data has been around for a
very, very long time.  The commander, in this
example, should have simply requested the data
from the department's MIS (Management
Information System).  Had the commander
requested the accurate computer generated  
version of the report, 12 sergeants and 150 police
officers would have been spared the time wasted
creating fiction.
The weight of administrative reporting will fall mainly
on supervision and middle management [sergeants
and lieutenants respectively].  If your department
has a well implemented and managed information
system, your involvement in the preparation and
submission of administrative reporting will be
minimal.  Obviously, larger police departments are
more susceptible to an ever expanding need for
more and more administrative reports covering just
about any activity imaginable.  If you join a large
police department with a poor or under utilized
information system, you could find yourself feeding
an administrative report juggernaut.
Ironically, the new information technology now
available to most police departments -- particularly
larger departments -- could and should simplify
administrative reporting needs.  The problem is that
most people in the management and command
positions of many police departments have little to
no knowledge when it comes to implementing and
utilizing the absolutely incredible advancements in
information technology.
As a police officer, you should never have to submit
any administrative reporting destined for statistical
purposes.  Here's a prime example of a needless
and totally inaccurate administrative report:
"...larger police departments are more
susceptible to an ever expanding need for
more and more administrative reports
covering just about any activity imaginable."
~ Barry M. Baker
The administrative report [Admin Report] is part of
the life blood of any police department.  The very
first time you put pen to paper to fill out your
application for employment, you'll be filling out an
administrative report.

As you contemplate the subject of police report
writing, you're probably focused in on the crime
reporting aspect.  If you think that writing reports
of crime is going to consume the majority of your
writing exercises, you may be in for a big surprise.
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker