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CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT
WRITING
THE HOW AND WHY
Part 11
Active and Passive Voice
in Police Reports
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT
WRITING
THE HOW AND WHY
Part 11
Active Voice and Passive
Voice in Police Reports
Officers can write sentences in either active
voice or passive voice.
Active voice: I questioned Boaz about the
argument.
Passive voice: Boaz was questioned about
the argument by me.
Criminal justice professionals used to believe
that writing in passive voice made them more
trustworthy and objective.
Not true.
Trustworthiness and objectivity are character
traits. They come from your commitment to
excellence and professionalism.
Writing in passive voice does not enhance your
professionalism or integrity..
And there’s an important reason for avoiding
passive voice in your reports:
Passive-voice sentences often don’t tell who
did the action.
Passive: Figueroa was arrested.
Active: I arrested Figueroa.
This who-did-what problem is especially serious
when you’re preparing to testify in court.
Suppose, for example, you were working a
scene with another officer. Passive-voice
sentences don’t show what each officer did.
Judy was interviewed. [Who interviewed her?]
Barry was patted down. [Who patted him
down?]
One more caution: Don’t assume that every is
or was sentence is passive voice.
The family was on vacation in Acapulco.
ACTIVE
The car is a light-blue, 2009 Yaris hatchback.
ACTIVE
Peter was sleeping in the back bedroom.
ACTIVE
It’s important to follow this rule in every report:
Make sure each sentence clearly shows who
was acting or speaking.
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!
Find FREE report writing
resources online at
www.YourPoliceWrite.com

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Criminal Justice 11: Active or Passive Voice?

  • 1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 11 Active and Passive Voice in Police Reports
  • 2. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 11 Active Voice and Passive Voice in Police Reports
  • 3. Officers can write sentences in either active voice or passive voice. Active voice: I questioned Boaz about the argument. Passive voice: Boaz was questioned about the argument by me.
  • 4. Criminal justice professionals used to believe that writing in passive voice made them more trustworthy and objective. Not true.
  • 5. Trustworthiness and objectivity are character traits. They come from your commitment to excellence and professionalism.
  • 6. Writing in passive voice does not enhance your professionalism or integrity..
  • 7. And there’s an important reason for avoiding passive voice in your reports: Passive-voice sentences often don’t tell who did the action. Passive: Figueroa was arrested. Active: I arrested Figueroa.
  • 8. This who-did-what problem is especially serious when you’re preparing to testify in court. Suppose, for example, you were working a scene with another officer. Passive-voice sentences don’t show what each officer did. Judy was interviewed. [Who interviewed her?] Barry was patted down. [Who patted him down?]
  • 9. One more caution: Don’t assume that every is or was sentence is passive voice. The family was on vacation in Acapulco. ACTIVE The car is a light-blue, 2009 Yaris hatchback. ACTIVE Peter was sleeping in the back bedroom. ACTIVE
  • 10. It’s important to follow this rule in every report: Make sure each sentence clearly shows who was acting or speaking.
  • 11. 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!
  • 12. Find FREE report writing resources online at www.YourPoliceWrite.com