While all the report formats may look
daunting at first, you'll soon become
familiar with all the parts that are
standardized.  The real challenge to the
preparation of any report will be the
report's narrative.

You're going to work with a lot of police
officers who really believe that a report
narrative shouldn't contain very much
information.  The amount of information
your narrative contains should always be
dictated by how much relevant
information is available to you -- not by
some arbitrary keep it simple theory.

Simplicity is a wonderful and
underestimated tool when it comes to
communication.  However, simplicity is
not synonymous with omission.  You
could handle an incident where your
report narrative may require only a
couple of paragraphs.  On another
occasion, the complexity of the incident,
and your investigative efforts, might
require your narrative to be of
considerable length.

In the beginning, you'll omit relevant
information only because you're still
inexperienced.  Hopefully, you'll have a
sergeant who is experienced and
interested in your development as a
thorough and competent investigator.  

Police officers universally have a bad habit
of omitting information from reports
which they believe should be inferred --
perhaps by telepathy.  For example, a
particular incident might require a
particular notification such as contacting
detectives.  Since the notification is
standard for the particular incident, the
officer omits it from the report.  If you
have a sergeant who thoroughly reviews
your reports, you'll soon learn that
inference has no place in police reports.  
In other words, if you don't write it, it
didn't happen.
Let's face it...a lot of police officers aren't
that great when it comes to
communicating in writing.  I supervised
some really good police officers whose
writing skills were horrible.  The nice thing
about being a police sergeant is one's
ability to turn your criticisms into
demands for improvement.  If you're one
of those police officers whose writing
skills aren't where they should be, don't
ever take criticism negatively.  

Remember...a narrative is simply a story
describing an event(s) and what actions
and tasks you performed in response to
the event(s).
When you become a police officer, you'll
be writing a lot of reports.  Talk about an
understatement.  Whether you're using a
pen or a computer, you'll spend an
enormous amount of your time filling out
forms and describing details of events in
"Simplicity is a wonderful and
underestimated tool when it comes
to communication.  However,
simplicity is not synonymous with
omission." ~ Barry M. Baker

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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
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
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