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
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 credibility.

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

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

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
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

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Today's police officers are
afforded the best ballistic
protection in history... and
it only gets better.
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Page 1
Alabama to California
Page 2
Colorado to Idaho
Page 3
Illinois to Kentucky
Page 4
Louisiana to Massachusetts
Page 5
Michigan to New Jersey
Page 6
New Mexico to North Dakota
Page 7
Ohio to South Dakota
Page 8
Tennessee to Washington-DC
Progress, satisfaction and
what you learn during your
police career will
determine your level of
The good news is...the
odds of you having to  use
deadly force is low.  The
bad news is...you will be
faced with that decision.
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