Chapter 03


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Chapter 03

  1. 1. Chapter 3Writing Effective Reports Hess 3-1
  2. 2. Introduction• One of the most important skills investigators must develop is report writing• Will examine how evidence is located and processed• Will examine how witnesses, victims, suspects and others are questioned• The report captures the essentials of an investigation Hess 3-2
  3. 3. The Importance of ReportsEFFECTIVE REPORTS• Need to be proficient• 20 percent of time spentwriting reports• Poor reporting jeopardizescriminal prosecution• Consider report usage Hess 3-3
  4. 4. Uses of ReportsVARIETY OF USES• By the prosecuting attorneys in preparing the case• By the responding police officer when testifying• By the judge in determining the facts• By the jury if a trial has resulted• Will be read by many different people for many different reasons Hess 3-4
  5. 5. The AudienceVARIETY OF READERS• Other officers• Supervisors• Attorneys and judges• Jurors• City officials Continued Hess 3-5
  6. 6. The Audience (Continued)VARIETY OF READERS• Insurance adjusters and investigators• Civil rights groups• Citizens• Media Hess 3-6
  7. 7. Common Problems with Many Police Reports INEFFECTIVE REPORTS • Writing effective reports is a skill that must be learned • Training officers encourage recruits to take shortcuts • Overtime can occur with thorough, accurate, complex reports • Effective report writing skills may not be recognized as important Hess 3-7
  8. 8. The Well-Written Report: From Start to Finish ORGANIZING INFORMATION • Cornerstone of good report writing is organization • The writer plans in advance • First make an informal outline • List what to include under each outline heading • List the facts in chronological order Hess 3-8
  9. 9. The Well-Written Report: From Start to Finish STRUCTURING THE NARRATIVE • Opening paragraph • Next paragraph contains what the victim or witness said • Next record what you did • Final paragraph states the disposition of the case Hess 3-9
  10. 10. The Well-Written Report: From Start to Finish CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE REPORTS • Content, or what is said • Form, or how it is written • Factual • Accurate • Objective Continued Hess 3-10
  11. 11. The Well-Written Report: From Start to Finish (Continued) CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE REPORTS • Complete • Concise • Clear • Grammatically and mechanically correct • Written in Standard English Continued Hess 3-11
  12. 12. The Well-Written Report: From Start to Finish (Continued) CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE REPORTS • Paragraphs • Past tense • First person • Active voice • Audience focused • Legible and on time Hess 3-12
  13. 13. Recording and Dictating ReportsTRANSCRIPTION• Recording or dictating reports is common in some departments• Demand for transcription services and software is increasing across the country• More efficient and less costly• Bulk of writing to records division Hess 3-13
  14. 14. Computerized Report WritingEFFICIENT DATA TRANSFER• Hardware• Software• Spell check programs• Presynct_DictaTrans• Cannot correctsloppy data entry Hess 3-14
  15. 15. Evaluating Your ReportEVALUATION CHECKLIST• Reread it• Proofread• Check spelling, punctuation and capitalization• Check grammar• Is it audience focused? Hess 3-15
  16. 16. Citizen Online Report WritingONLINE CRIME REPORTS• Benefits  Increase caseload processing efficiency  Increase patrol officer effectiveness  Private security guards file shoplifting reports  Reduction in writing reports for minor incidents  Directly download into the department’s records Hess 3-16
  17. 17. The Final ReportCULMINATION• Prosecution report• All essential information gathered• Bring case to trial Hess 3-17
  18. 18. A Final Note on the Importance of Well-Written ReportsREPORT OVERVIEW• The importance of reports is clear• Maximize the benefits a report can provide• Write it well the first time• Keep everyone current and clear on the facts• Can greatly enhance an officer’s career Hess 3-18
  19. 19. Summary• Reports are permanent written records of important facts of a case• The effective report writer attends to both content and form• An effective report is factual• A well-written report helps the criminal justice system operate more efficiently and effectively Hess 3-19