police_report_writing

police_report_writing - Principles of Investigations...

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Unformatted text preview: Principles of Investigations Principles and Report Writing and Criminal Investigations Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Principles of Investigations and Principles Report Writing Report A criminal investigation is only as good as the report that supports it. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Investigation Basics Who is an investigator? What is an Investigation? When does an Investigation Begin Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Basic Legal Beginning of an Basic investigation. investigation. Probable cause ­ Probable cause means that police must have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed, or is being committed, by the suspect Reasonable Suspicion – an objectively justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances and that justifies stopping and sometimes searching a person may be involved in criminal activity Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Basics of Report Writing Skills Write in the first person. Use chronological order. Use past tense. Use active voice. Use correct spelling and punctuation. Use correct subject/ verb agreement. Use correct pronoun reference. Avoid jargon and wordiness. Write facts rather than opinions. Choose the correct word to describe the incident. Organize the report by using openings, paragraphs, and headings. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Quality “The best investigation is only as good as the report completed about it. A quality report is an effective report, and to qualify as effective it must be: Complete Clear Concise Accurate” Police Magazine, May 1997 Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Note Taking Purpose: Record storage Building Blocks Aid to Memory Mechanics of Note Taking Readable Accurate Concise Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Notes to Sentences 0700 rec’d call, 459 now, 123 N. Main Street. 0710 arrvd scene 0711 PR R. Foster (3­16­59) arrvd busins, 0645, frnt door open. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Sentences to Reports On February 6, 2005, I was assigned to uniformed patrol, unit 1A12. At 0700 hours, I received a call of a burglary in progress at 123 North Main Street. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Reports Source of Activity: On February 6, 2005, I was assigned to uniformed patrol, unit 1A12. At 0700 hours, I received a call of a burglary in progress at 123 North Main Street. Observations: At 0710 hours, I arrived on scene were I was met by the Person Reporting, Raymond Foster. Foster told me that he arrived at his place of business (123 N. Main Street) at 0645 hours and found the front door of the business open. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Tell the Story What happened? Create a mental picture so the reader knows what happened. The reader: Supervisor Detectives Victim District Attorney Witnesses Judge Defense Attorney You Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Write in First Person To make reports easier to read and to understand, most department ask officers to write in the FIRST PERSON. The writer of the report refers to himself/herself as I, and uses the first person pronouns me, my, and mine. The more formal third person this officer, reporting officer (R/O) or this writer reference is old­fashioned and unacceptable in modern law enforcement. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Missing Information Missing information can be used to infer that you are: Not very professional Not Thorough Do not have certain expertise Not Truthful Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Write in Chronological Order Chronological order is order by time. Your report should tell what happened in the order that the events took place. Get all the facts and then list them in the order in which they happened. It is much easier to understand what happened if the details are written in chronological order, even if the people involved do not tell you the information in chronological order. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Write in the Past Tense Everything you write in your report has already happened, so use the past tense. In present tense, you would write: The suspect lives at 1010 Swanson Court. A defense attorney might ask: “Does the suspect still live there?” It’s likely you will have to say that you do not know. If you have to say, “I don’t know” many times, you will destroy your credibility. If you write in past tense, you can say that what is in the report was correct at the time you wrote the report. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Past Tense Do not use the emphatic form (the word did) in combination with other action words (verbs). This form implies that something else happened. Incorrect: I did issue a citation. (But it was ignored.) Correct: I issued a citation. Incorrect: Markly did say that Norman had a gun. (But later he changed his statement.) Correct: Markly said that Norman had a gun. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Basic English Rules Or, the what your teachers have been telling you for years! Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Antecedent Basic Principle: A pronoun usually refers to something earlier in the report (its antecedent) and must agree in number — singular/plural — with the thing to which it refers. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Spelling and Punctuation Basic Principle: Spelling always counts! Avoid looking – Stupid Careless Unprofessional Uneducated Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Use an Active Voice Every sentence has a subject and a verb. Active Voice: When the subject performs the action of the verb. Active voice: I asked the man about the broken mirror. Passive Voice: When the action is done to the subject. The subject receives the action of the verb. Passive voice: The fire was reported by the child. Reports should be written in active voice whenever possible. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Use Active Voice The report was written by Officer Jackson. Passive voice Seven words Officer Jackson wrote the report. Active voice Five words If you save two words per sentence, in a five paragraph report, you will save approximately 40 words. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Subject/Verb Agreement Singular subjects require a singular verb. (Note: Verbs that end in s are singular!) A plural subject must have a plural verb. I was not aware of the new procedure. They were sent to the hospital. The pronoun “you” always requires a plural verb. You were never good at telling a lie. You all were to finish the exercise before you left the class. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Subject/Verb Agreement Singular (He/ She) Is Was Has Does Knows Wants Plural (They) Are Were Have Do Know Want Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Subject/Verb Agreement Collective nouns are words which indicate a group (like committee, jury, department, squad). If the noun is used to show the group as an entity or whole (one), use the singular verb. The jury was able to reach a verdict. If the noun shows members acting as individuals, use the plural. The Squad cast their votes for a new president. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Subject/Verb Agreement Certain subjects look like they are plural when they are really singular. The words each, either, neither and any word that ends in –one, ­body, or ­thing are singular. Anyone No one Everyone Someone Anybody Nobody Everybody Somebody Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Anything Nothing Everything Something Subjects Joined by And Subjects And If two or more singular subjects are joined by and, they are considered plural. (1 + 1 = 2) Officer Thompson and Officer Sims were transferred to District 5. If singular and plural subjects are joined by and, they are plural. Officer Green and three teenagers were asked to testify in court. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Subjects Separated by Or or Nor Subjects Or Nor If two subjects are separated by or or nor, the verb agrees with the subject positioned nearest to it in the sentence. Mrs. Gayle or her sons were in the house at the time of the incident. Her sons or Mrs. Gayle was responsible for the fire. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Basic Principle: A pronoun takes the place of a noun. Each pronoun has an antecedent – the word that the pronoun takes the place of and refers to. Each pronoun refers to only one antecedent. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Pronoun Antecedent Agreement The pronoun must agree with the antecedent in gender and in number. Incorrect: Each officer must bring their notes to the meeting. Correct: Each officer must bring his (or her) notes to the meeting. Better: All officers must bring their notes to the meeting. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Pronoun Antecedent Agreement The same rules that apply to subject/ verb agreement also apply to pronoun antecedent agreement. The female child held her pencil in her closed fist. Attorney Jim Spartus was asked to bring his estimates on the damage to his client’s boat to court on Wednesday. The three suspects asked for their lawyers Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Ambiguous Pronouns When a sentence is written in such a way that the reader does not know who or what the pronoun refers to, the sentence has an ambiguous pronoun Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Ambiguous Pronouns Each pronoun in a sentence should refer to only one antecedent. Incorrect: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he began to run. Who does he refer to– Officer Swanson or the man? Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and the man began to run. Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he, Swanson, began to run. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster What is Jargon? And, why should we avoid it? Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Avoid Wordiness Good police reports can avoid wordiness by doing the following: Use simple words Use active voice Avoid wordy phrases Avoid redundancy Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Examples Incorrect: In subsequent endeavors to ascertain her whereabouts on July 28, I questioned the suspected perpetrator as she exited the premises of her employment. Correct: I later questioned the suspect as she left work to learn where she had been on July 28. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Avoid Wordy Phrases Each and every Red in color Due to the fact that If this should prove to be the case Paced back and forth Members of the gang Each Red Because If Paced Gang members Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Avoid Redundancy Past experience True facts Future plans Meet together Reduce down Final result Join together Basic fundamentals Experience Facts Plans Meet Reduce The result Join Basic/ fundamental Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Report Facts, Not Opinions How do you know? See Hear Taste Touch Smell Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Report Facts, Not Opinions Report facts, not your opinions. Opinion: Peterson is a violent person. Fact: Peterson has been arrested twice for domestic abuse. Be sure to cite the source of your information. The victim entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours. (How do you know? Were you there?) The victim said she entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Use Specific Words Accuracy involves detail, so be sure your sentences are specific enough to give the reader a clear picture. The suspect was driving recklessly. The suspect did not stop the vehicle before it struck the child on the sled. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Attitude Toward Reports Defense Attorney: “If it isn’t on paper, it didn’t happen.” Defense attorneys always check to see who was the arresting officer. Every officer earns a reputation for the quality of reports that he or she writes. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Attitudes Toward Reports Juries: “If I don’t hear it in court, it didn’t happen.” If something is not in the report, it is harder to bring up in court. If you testify about information but it’s not in the report, you’ve lost credibility. There is no good answer to the question, “Why isn’t it in the report?” On the witness stand, if an officer can’t remember but says that the information is in the report, the jury usually believes the report. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report Most reports will begin with a face sheet. Face sheets are used to Direct information gathering Record pertinent statistics Organize information Reduce the length of the narrative Provide a quick reference for others Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report Once your notes are in order, write the narrative. Each narrative will have An opening or Source of Activity Chronological facts of the investigation or Observations A closing or disposition Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report The opening will contain Who the officer(s) and complainant(s) are What the officer was doing at the time of the call What the incident was When (time and date) the officer received the call Where the incident occurred Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report A typical opening, with heading, may read as follows: Source of Activity: On Tuesday, March 18, 200­, I was on patrol alone. At approximately 1042 hours, Dispatch called and said that a Henry Bartell had reported a battery in progress outside Katy’s Café, 123 Main Street. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report The chronological narration of the incident should outline what you did to investigate the incident. Use headings to keep your report organized. Exact headings will depend on the type of incident that you are investigating. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report Headings may include: Source of Activity Observations Victim’s Statements Witness’ Statements Officer’s Actions Suspect’s Statements Description of Stolen Goods Evidence Disposition Arrests Citations Juvenile Custody Status Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Writing a Report Under each heading use one or more paragraphs. Use a new paragraph to signal A shift in focus A change of time A change of location A new person or speaker New perspective/ viewpoint New topic or idea within a topic Set off dialogue A new section of the report Paragraphs may include numbered or bulleted lists. Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster Principles of Principles Criminal Investigations and Criminal Report Writing Report Find out more about forensic science at Find forensic www.forensicprofiles.com Copyright 2005­2009: Hi Tech Criminal Justice, Raymond E. Foster ...
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