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Using Quotations in Police Reports

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Police reports often quote witnesses, suspects, and victims. This PowerPoint gives you tips for recording statements accurately and punctuating them correctly.

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Using Quotations in Police Reports

  1. 1. Using Quotations in Police Reports by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Using Quotations in Police Reports by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  3. 3. Police reports often quote what witnesses, suspects, and victims say.
  4. 4. Getting the words right is important, for two reasons.
  5. 5. First, recording exactly what a victim or suspect said can win or lose a case in court.
  6. 6. Second, sometimes investigators can use a criminal’s speech habits and patterns to help solve a crime.
  7. 7. So…how do you get the words right?
  8. 8. 1. Train yourself to listen and remember. Everyday life provides many opportunities for practice.
  9. 9. Try recalling conversations, radio broadcasts, and dialogue on TV.
  10. 10. 2. Develop the habit of carrying a small notebook with you so that you can record exactly what people tell you.
  11. 11. You also need to know how to use quotation marks correctly.
  12. 12. The rules aren’t difficult. 1. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. 2. Use quotation marks only when you write down someone’s exact words.
  13. 13. Let’s look at #1: Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. Jeffers said, “Wilson started the argument.” The suspect looked “sort of confused,” said Meyers. Rajun insisted he’d just “slapped her a bit.” “I’ve done nothing wrong,” Cameron told me.
  14. 14. In American punctuation, there are no exceptions. (The UK and Canada do quotation marks differently.) Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks.
  15. 15. Now let’s look at #2: Use quotation marks only when you write down someone’s exact words.
  16. 16. Take a look at these examples. In each pair, the first quotation uses exact words and needs quotation marks. Hill said, “I had a couple of beers.” EXACT WORDS Hill said he had a couple of beers. NO QUOTATION MARKS Lakein said, “I don’t have a key to the cabinet where the drugs are kept.” EXACT WORDS Lakein said she didn’t have a key to the cabinet where the drugs were kept. NO QUOTATION MARKS
  17. 17. Betty said, “Joe threatened me with a baseball bat.” EXACT WORDS Betty said that Joe threatened her with a baseball bat. NO QUOTATION MARKS Here’s another example:
  18. 18. There’s one more thing you need to know: Avoid repetition when you’re quoting in a report.
  19. 19. Wrong way (repetitious): I asked Keller about the break-in. She said she woke up and heard a noise. I asked her what time that was. She said she thought it was around 2 am. I asked her what she did when she heard the noise. She said she put on a robe and went over to her bedroom door. I asked her if she heard anything suspicious. She said it sounded like someone was walking around in her living room.
  20. 20. Better: I asked Keller about the break-in. She said she woke up and heard a noise around 2 am. She put on a robe and went over to her bedroom door. It sounded like someone was walking around in her living room.
  21. 21. You can learn more about quotations at www.YourPoliceWrite.com.
  22. 22. All the resources there are FREE: www.YourPoliceWrite.com.
  23. 23. And if you’re looking for a low-cost, practical book…
  24. 24. Criminal Justice Report Writing is available from www.Amazon.com for just $19.95. View a free sample online.
  25. 25. An e-book edition is available from www.Smashwords.com for only $9.99.
  26. 26. A discount price is available for class sets (minimum five books). A free Instructor’s Manual is available for instructors and administrators. Send an e-mail request from your official account to jreynoldswrite at aol.com.

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