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Writing Police Reports

Assume that a traffic stop resulted in arresting someone for 15 g of heroin possession:

No witness statements are available.
The heroin seized totaled was 15 grams and field tested positive.
Assume that he was cooperative.
Assume the offense occurred in Michigan.

- What should be the 3 main components of an initial report?
- Which of the 3 components do you feel is the most important?
- What are the functions of the narrative section of a report?
- Do you feel that the narrative is important?
- How should a narrative section should be written?
- What challenges do you think can exist due to a poorly written narrative on a police report?
- What best practices should employed when writing police reports.

Solution Preview

What should be the 3 main components of an initial report?

-- The three main components of an initial report should include the crime that was committed, who committed the crime, and where it took place. In this case, the three main components would be 15 grams of heroin seized that field tested positive, on a traffic stop that resulted in the arrest of John Doe.

Which of the 3 components do you feel is the most important?

-- The facts which state which law was broken/the actual violation would be the most important component. Through several decades of law enforcement experience actually working with police reports, the main components have never changed, not even over the course of time. The single most important element pertains to the "what" of the report -- namely, what law was violated. This section needs to be written neatly, clearly, and concisely because it is one of the primary elements of the investigation.

What are the functions of the narrative section of a report?

-- The narrative section of the police report serves the function of telling us who, what, when, where, and why. It functions as a tool for police and for the court systems including the prosecutors. This is why the narrative must be written clearly -- it has the potential, depending on the incident, to be read and used by many people at many times throughout the criminal justice system. The police narrative serves as the guideline for the incident and for the case to be built, and the formation of the case begins with the police narrative based on what happened, as according to the officer's narrative.

Do you feel that the ...

Solution Summary

Assume that a traffic stop resulted in arresting someone for 15 g of heroin possession:

No witness statements are available.
The heroin seized totaled was 15 grams and field tested positive.
Assume that he was cooperative.
Assume the offense occurred in Michigan.

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