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Criminal Justice 4: Organizing and Writing a Report

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Steps in organizing and writing a criminal justice report

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Criminal Justice 4: Organizing and Writing a Report

  1. 1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 4 Organizing and Writing a Police Report
  2. 2. Report writing begins at the scene  start organizing your thoughts and observations  think in six categories: yourself, victims, witnesses, suspects, evidence, disposition  record information promptly and accurately  use quotation marks for someone’s exact words
  3. 3. When you begin writing…  follow your agency or institution’s procedures  if you’re filling out a form on paper or a laptop, enter the facts first  if you’re writing on a blank sheet of paper, begin with a detailed opening sentence
  4. 4. Your opening sentence should include  date, time, and location  your name and ID  additional officers, if present  why you were at the scene  nature of the call or incident
  5. 5. Typical opening sentences: At 3:20 p.m. on October 3, 2009, I, Officer Carole Donner #13925, was dispatched to a break-in at 35 Woodland Road. At approximately 10:35 a.m. on July 9, 2010, I, Officer Frank Dunham ID 0621, went into Building B to talk to the chaplain about plans for next month’s musical program. NOTE: Some agencies require an opening sentence even if you’re filling out a paper or
  6. 6. When you write your report  start a new paragraph for each witness, victim, and suspect  Use names, not Victim1, Suspect2  Use “later identified as” if you don’t know the person’s name right away  Record contact information for each person you talked to (get phone numbers for a friend or relative if necessary)
  7. 7. Be sure to include…  Each investigation you performed, even if there were no results (important if someone violates the crime scene later)  Serial numbers, makes, and models when appropriate  Behavioral characteristics that may be useful in court later (such as trembling, crying, clenched fists)  A victim’s or suspect’s exact words when they might assist an investigation (often perpetrators have a consistent pattern of speech and
  8. 8. Be sure to complete the “disposition”  Tie up every loose end  Establish a chain of custody for each piece of evidence  Explain how injuries were handled  If a suspect was apprehended, include Miranda rights, charges, and custody  Document agency procedures, such as victim’s rights booklets and follow-up information  If more than one officer was present, record who performed each step
  9. 9. To Learn More: Criminal Justice Report Writing is available in softcover ($17.95) from www.Amazon.com and in a variety of ebook and Apple formats (Kindle, Nook, SONY etc.) for $11.99 from www.Smashwords.com. Read a free sample online!
  10. 10. Find FREE report writing resources online at www.YourPoliceWrite.com