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Principles of Investigations and Reporting Week II.

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Presentation on theme: "Principles of Investigations and Reporting Week II."— Presentation transcript:

1 Principles of Investigations and Reporting Week II

2 Principles of Investigations and Reporting An investigation is only as good as the report that supports it.

3 Investigation Basic Who is an investigator? What is an Investigation? When does an Investigation Begin

4 Basic Legal Beginning of an investigation. Probable cause - Probable cause - Probable cause means that police must have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed, or is being committed, by the suspect Reasonable Suspicion – an objectively justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances and that justifies stopping and sometimes searching a person may be involved in criminal activity

5 Basics of Report Writing Skills Write in the first person. Write in the first person. Use chronological order. Use chronological order. Use past tense. Use past tense. Use active voice. Use active voice. Use correct spelling and punctuation. Use correct spelling and punctuation. Use correct subject/ verb agreement. Use correct subject/ verb agreement. Use correct pronoun reference. Use correct pronoun reference. Avoid jargon and wordiness. Write facts rather than opinions. Choose the correct word to describe the incident. Organize the report by using openings, paragraphs, and headings.

6 Quality “The best investigation is only as good as the report completed about it. A quality report is an effective report, and to qualify as effective it must be:  Complete  Clear  Concise  Accurate” Police Magazine, May 1997

7 Note Taking Purpose: Purpose: Record storage Record storage Building Blocks Building Blocks Aid to Memory Aid to Memory Mechanics of Note Taking Mechanics of Note Taking Readable Readable Accurate Accurate Concise Concise

8 Notes to Sentences 0700 rec’d call, 459 now, 123 N. Main Street rec’d call, 459 now, 123 N. Main Street arrvd scene 0710 arrvd scene 0711 PR R. Foster ( ) arrvd busins, 0645, frnt door open PR R. Foster ( ) arrvd busins, 0645, frnt door open.

9 Sentences to Reports On February 6, 2005, I was assigned to uniformed patrol, unit 1A12. At 0700 hours, I received a call of a burglary in progress at 123 North Main Street.

10 Reports Source of Activity: On February 6, 2005, I was assigned to uniformed patrol, unit 1A12. At 0700 hours, I received a call of a burglary in progress at 123 North Main Street. Observations: At 0710 hours, I arrived on scene were I was met by the Person Reporting, Raymond Foster. Foster told me that he arrived at his place of business (123 N. Main Street) at 0645 hours and found the front door of the business open.

11 Tell the Story What happened? Create a mental picture so the reader knows what happened. The reader: SupervisorDetectivesVictim District AttorneyWitnessesJudge Defense AttorneyYou

12 Write in First Person  To make reports easier to read and to understand, most department ask officers to write in the FIRST PERSON. The writer of the report refers to himself/herself as I, and uses the first person pronouns me, my, and mine. The writer of the report refers to himself/herself as I, and uses the first person pronouns me, my, and mine. The more formal third person this officer, reporting officer (R/O) or this writer reference is old-fashioned and unacceptable in modern law enforcement. The more formal third person this officer, reporting officer (R/O) or this writer reference is old-fashioned and unacceptable in modern law enforcement.

13 Missing Information Missing information can be used to infer that you are: Not very professional Not very professional Not Thorough Not Thorough Do not have certain expertise Do not have certain expertise Not Truthful Not Truthful

14 Write in Chronological Order Chronological order is order by time. Your report should tell what happened in the order that the events took place. Chronological order is order by time. Your report should tell what happened in the order that the events took place. Get all the facts and then list them in the order in which they happened. It is much easier to understand what happened if the details are written in chronological order, even if the people involved do not tell you the information in chronological order. Get all the facts and then list them in the order in which they happened. It is much easier to understand what happened if the details are written in chronological order, even if the people involved do not tell you the information in chronological order.

15 Write in the Past Tense Everything you write in your report has already happened, so use the past tense. Everything you write in your report has already happened, so use the past tense. In present tense, you would write: The suspect lives at 1010 Swanson Court. A defense attorney might ask: “Does the suspect still live there?” In present tense, you would write: The suspect lives at 1010 Swanson Court. A defense attorney might ask: “Does the suspect still live there?” It’s likely you will have to say that you do not know. If you have to say, “I don’t know” many times, you will destroy your credibility. If you write in past tense, you can say that what is in the report was correct at the time you wrote the report. It’s likely you will have to say that you do not know. If you have to say, “I don’t know” many times, you will destroy your credibility. If you write in past tense, you can say that what is in the report was correct at the time you wrote the report.

16 Past Tense Do not use the emphatic form (the word did) in combination with other action words (verbs). This form implies that something else happened. Do not use the emphatic form (the word did) in combination with other action words (verbs). This form implies that something else happened. Incorrect: I did issue a citation. (But it was ignored.) Incorrect: I did issue a citation. (But it was ignored.) Correct: I issued a citation. Correct: I issued a citation. Incorrect: Markly did say that Norman had a gun. (But later he changed his statement.) Incorrect: Markly did say that Norman had a gun. (But later he changed his statement.) Correct: Markly said that Norman had a gun. Correct: Markly said that Norman had a gun.

17 Basic English Rules Or, the what your teachers have been telling you for years!

18 Antecedent Basic Principle: Basic Principle: A pronoun usually refers to something earlier in the report (its antecedent) and must agree in number — singular/plural — with the thing to which it refers.

19 Spelling and Punctuation Basic Principle: Spelling always counts! Avoid looking – StupidCarelessUnprofessionalUneducated

20 Use an Active Voice Every sentence has a subject and a verb. Every sentence has a subject and a verb. Active Voice: When the subject performs the action of the verb. Active Voice: When the subject performs the action of the verb. Active voice: I asked the man about the broken mirror. Active voice: I asked the man about the broken mirror. Passive Voice: When the action is done to the subject. The subject receives the action of the verb.  Passive voice: The fire was reported by the child.  Reports should be written in active voice whenever possible.

21 Use Active Voice The report was written by Officer Jackson. The report was written by Officer Jackson. Passive voice Passive voice Seven words Seven words Officer Jackson wrote the report. Active voice Five words If you save two words per sentence, in a five paragraph report, you will save approximately 40 words.

22 Subject/Verb Agreement Singular subjects require a singular verb. (Note: Verbs that end in s are singular!) Singular subjects require a singular verb. (Note: Verbs that end in s are singular!) I was not aware of the new procedure. I was not aware of the new procedure. A plural subject must have a plural verb. A plural subject must have a plural verb. They were sent to the hospital. They were sent to the hospital. The pronoun “you” always requires a plural verb. The pronoun “you” always requires a plural verb. You were never good at telling a lie. You were never good at telling a lie. You all were to finish the exercise before you left the class. You all were to finish the exercise before you left the class.

23 Subject/Verb Agreement Singular (He/ She) Singular (He/ She) Is Is Was Was Has Has Does Does Knows Knows Wants Wants Plural (They) Are Were Have Do Know Want

24 Subject/Verb Agreement Collective nouns are words which indicate a group (like committee, jury, department, squad). Collective nouns are words which indicate a group (like committee, jury, department, squad). If the noun is used to show the group as an entity or whole (one), use the singular verb. If the noun is used to show the group as an entity or whole (one), use the singular verb. The jury was able to reach a verdict. The jury was able to reach a verdict. If the noun shows members acting as individuals, use the plural. If the noun shows members acting as individuals, use the plural. The Squad cast their votes for a new president. The Squad cast their votes for a new president.

25 Subject/Verb Agreement Certain subjects look like they are plural when they are really singular. The words each, either, neither and any word that ends in –one, -body, or -thing are singular. Certain subjects look like they are plural when they are really singular. The words each, either, neither and any word that ends in –one, -body, or -thing are singular. AnyoneAnybodyAnything AnyoneAnybodyAnything No oneNobodyNothing No oneNobodyNothing EveryoneEverybodyEverything EveryoneEverybodyEverything SomeoneSomebodySomething SomeoneSomebodySomething

26 Subjects Joined by And If two or more singular subjects are joined by and, they are considered plural. (1 + 1 = 2) If two or more singular subjects are joined by and, they are considered plural. (1 + 1 = 2) Officer Thompson and Officer Sims were transferred to District 5. Officer Thompson and Officer Sims were transferred to District 5. If singular and plural subjects are joined by and, they are plural. If singular and plural subjects are joined by and, they are plural. Officer Green and three teenagers were asked to testify in court. Officer Green and three teenagers were asked to testify in court.

27 Subjects Separated by Or or Nor If two subjects are separated by or or nor, the verb agrees with the subject positioned nearest to it in the sentence. If two subjects are separated by or or nor, the verb agrees with the subject positioned nearest to it in the sentence. Mrs. Gayle or her sons were in the house at the time of the incident. Mrs. Gayle or her sons were in the house at the time of the incident. Her sons or Mrs. Gayle was responsible for the fire. Her sons or Mrs. Gayle was responsible for the fire.

28 Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Basic Principle: A pronoun takes the place of a noun. Each pronoun has an antecedent – the word that the pronoun takes the place of and refers to. Each pronoun refers to only one antecedent.

29 Pronoun Antecedent Agreement The pronoun must agree with the antecedent in gender and in number. The pronoun must agree with the antecedent in gender and in number. Incorrect: Each officer must bring their notes to the meeting. Incorrect: Each officer must bring their notes to the meeting. Correct: Each officer must bring his (or her) notes to the meeting. Correct: Each officer must bring his (or her) notes to the meeting. Better: All officers must bring their notes to the meeting. Better: All officers must bring their notes to the meeting.

30 Pronoun Antecedent Agreement The same rules that apply to subject/ verb agreement also apply to pronoun antecedent agreement. The same rules that apply to subject/ verb agreement also apply to pronoun antecedent agreement. The female child held her pencil in her closed fist. The female child held her pencil in her closed fist. Attorney Jim Spartus was asked to bring his estimates on the damage to his client’s boat to court on Wednesday. Attorney Jim Spartus was asked to bring his estimates on the damage to his client’s boat to court on Wednesday. The three suspects asked for their lawyers The three suspects asked for their lawyers

31 Ambiguous Pronouns When a sentence is written in such a way that the reader does not know who or what the pronoun refers to, the sentence has an ambiguous pronoun When a sentence is written in such a way that the reader does not know who or what the pronoun refers to, the sentence has an ambiguous pronoun

32 Ambiguous Pronouns Each pronoun in a sentence should refer to only one antecedent. Each pronoun in a sentence should refer to only one antecedent. Incorrect: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he began to run. Who does he refer to– Officer Swanson or the man? Incorrect: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he began to run. Who does he refer to– Officer Swanson or the man? Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and the man began to run. Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and the man began to run. Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he, Swanson, began to run. Correct: Officer Swanson saw the man carrying a television set, and he, Swanson, began to run.

33 What is Jargon? And, why should we avoid it?

34 Avoid Wordiness Good police reports can avoid wordiness by doing the following: Good police reports can avoid wordiness by doing the following: Use simple words Use simple words Use active voice Use active voice Avoid wordy phrases Avoid wordy phrases Avoid redundancy Avoid redundancy

35 Examples Incorrect: In subsequent endeavors to ascertain her whereabouts on July 28, I questioned the suspected perpetrator as she exited the premises of her employment. Incorrect: In subsequent endeavors to ascertain her whereabouts on July 28, I questioned the suspected perpetrator as she exited the premises of her employment. Correct: I later questioned the suspect as she left work to learn where she had been on July 28.

36 Avoid Wordy Phrases Each and every Each and every Red in color Red in color Due to the fact that Due to the fact that If this should prove to be the case If this should prove to be the case Paced back and forth Paced back and forth Members of the gang Members of the gang Each Red Because If Paced Gang members

37 Avoid Redundancy Past experience Past experience True facts True facts Future plans Future plans Meet together Meet together Reduce down Reduce down Final result Final result Join together Join together Basic fundamentals Basic fundamentals Experience Facts Plans Meet Reduce The result Join Basic/ fundamental

38 Report Facts, Not Opinions How do you know? How do you know? See See Hear Hear Taste Taste Touch Touch Smell Smell

39 Report Facts, Not Opinions Report facts, not your opinions. Report facts, not your opinions. Opinion: Peterson is a violent person. Opinion: Peterson is a violent person. Fact: Peterson has been arrested twice for domestic abuse. Fact: Peterson has been arrested twice for domestic abuse. Be sure to cite the source of your information. Be sure to cite the source of your information. The victim entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours. (How do you know? Were you there?) The victim entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours. (How do you know? Were you there?) The victim said she entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours. The victim said she entered the garage at approximately 2311 hours.

40 Use Specific Words Accuracy involves detail, so be sure your sentences are specific enough to give the reader a clear picture. The suspect was driving recklessly. The suspect did not stop the vehicle before it struck the child on the sled.

41 Attitude Toward Reports Defense Attorney: Defense Attorney: “If it isn’t on paper, it didn’t happen.” “If it isn’t on paper, it didn’t happen.” Defense attorneys always check to see who was the arresting officer. Every officer earns a reputation for the quality of reports that he or she writes. Defense attorneys always check to see who was the arresting officer. Every officer earns a reputation for the quality of reports that he or she writes.

42 Attitudes Toward Reports Juries: Juries: “If I don’t hear it in court, it didn’t happen.” “If I don’t hear it in court, it didn’t happen.” If something is not in the report, it is harder to bring up in court. If you testify about information but it’s not in the report, you’ve lost credibility. There is no good answer to the question, “Why isn’t it in the report?” If something is not in the report, it is harder to bring up in court. If you testify about information but it’s not in the report, you’ve lost credibility. There is no good answer to the question, “Why isn’t it in the report?” On the witness stand, if an officer can’t remember but says that the information is in the report, the jury usually believes the report. On the witness stand, if an officer can’t remember but says that the information is in the report, the jury usually believes the report.

43 Writing a Report Most reports will begin with a face sheet. Most reports will begin with a face sheet. Face sheets are used to Face sheets are used to Direct information gathering Direct information gathering Record pertinent statistics Record pertinent statistics Organize information Organize information Reduce the length of the narrative Reduce the length of the narrative Provide a quick reference for others Provide a quick reference for others

44 Writing a Report Once your notes are in order, write the narrative. Each narrative will have Once your notes are in order, write the narrative. Each narrative will have An opening or Source of Activity An opening or Source of Activity Chronological facts of the investigation or Observations Chronological facts of the investigation or Observations A closing or disposition A closing or disposition

45 Writing a Report The opening will contain The opening will contain Who the officer(s) and complainant(s) are Who the officer(s) and complainant(s) are What the officer was doing at the time of the call What the officer was doing at the time of the call What the incident was What the incident was When (time and date) the officer received the call When (time and date) the officer received the call Where the incident occurred Where the incident occurred

46 Writing a Report A typical opening, with heading, may read as follows: A typical opening, with heading, may read as follows: Source of Activity: On Tuesday, March 18, 200-, I was on patrol alone. At approximately 1042 hours, Dispatch called and said that a Henry Bartell had reported a battery in progress outside Katy’s Café, 123 Main Street.

47 Writing a Report The chronological narration of the incident should outline what you did to investigate the incident. The chronological narration of the incident should outline what you did to investigate the incident. Use headings to keep your report organized. Exact headings will depend on the type of incident that you are investigating. Use headings to keep your report organized. Exact headings will depend on the type of incident that you are investigating.

48 Writing a Report Source of Activity Source of Activity Observations Observations Victim’s Statements Victim’s Statements Witness’ Statements Witness’ Statements Officer’s Actions Officer’s Actions Suspect’s Statements Suspect’s Statements Description of Stolen Goods Evidence Disposition Arrests Citations Juvenile Custody Status  Headings may include:

49 Writing a Report Under each heading use one or more paragraphs. Use a new paragraph to signal Under each heading use one or more paragraphs. Use a new paragraph to signal A shift in focus A shift in focus New perspective/ viewpoint New perspective/ viewpoint New topic or idea within a topic New topic or idea within a topic A change of time A change of time A change of location A change of location A new person or speaker A new person or speaker Set off dialogue Set off dialogue A new section of the report A new section of the report Paragraphs may include numbered or bulleted lists. Paragraphs may include numbered or bulleted lists.

50 Principles of Investigations and Reporting An investigation is only as good as the report that supports it.


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