Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. Identify the potential uses of written communication in the public
2. Demonstrate the ability to write reports that conform to accepted
3. Extract and organize information from a variety of sources into
written and verbal reports describing/defining problems.
4. Demonstrate the ability to take field notes that include the
information needed to complete a crime or incident report.
5. Demonstrate the ability to reduce observations and other information
to clear, concise, logically organized reports that are readable and
relatively free of mechanical errors.
6. Demonstrate the ability to write all required elements of an offense.
7. Demonstrate the basic techniques of interviewing.
8. Demonstrate the basic techniques of testifying.
9. Demonstrate ability to write accurate and factual reports, containing
the reportable elements of incidents, synthesizing several sources and based upon observation and
I. Written communication
A. How crime, incident and arrest reports are used by the
criminal justice system
3. Minimize liability
B. What is a report?
1. Definition of a report
2. Importance of a good report
a. Your credibility/reputation
b. Enables the justice system to work better
c. Responsibility for taking reports
A. Characteristics of field notes
1. Record brief notes in the field while facts are fresh
2. Pertinent data.
3. Subject to subpoena
B. Develop permanent field notes
III. Writing crime reports
A. Critical characteristics of a crime report
6. Complete and thorough
7. Use of first person and active voice
B. Organization and structure of report narratives
1. Gather information during preliminary investigation
2. Analyze facts and information
3. Condense into a factual concise, yet thorough, document
C. Defenses asserted by suspect
1. Miranda issues
2. Exclusionary Rule issues
3. Probable Cause
4. Civil Rights violations
5. Credibility of victims/witnesses/officers
D. General content
E. Types of reports
1. Property crimes, including felony and misdemeanor
b. Petty theft
2. Violent crimes, including felony and misdemeanor
b. Assault with a deadly weapon
3. Sex crimes
a. Sexual assault
b. Unlawful sexual intercourse
c. Child molestation
4. Domestic violence crimes
a. Domestic violence
b. Domestic battery
c. Violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
5. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
a. In progress
b. DUI related accident/vehicular manslaughter
a. Offense report
b. Missing person/runaway
F. Style used by law enforcement agencies
1. First person-active
2. Avoid police jargon
3. Chronological order
G. Basic mechanics allowed
1. Writing resources
b. Spelling checkers
IV. Minimum standards for arrest report
A. Elements of a crime
B. Probable cause to arrest
C. Lawful search
D. Recovery of evidence
E. Miranda if appropriate
V. Minimum standards for investigative report
A. Elements of a crime
B. Statements of victim(s), witness(es)
C. Crime scene details
D. Recovery and collection of physical evidence
1. 8 written reports of 2-4 pages.
2. 6-8 quizzes on lecture material
3. Observe and take notes on 6-8 interview scenarios and prepare
4. Students complete 6-8 written reports based on observation of
criminal offense scenarios.
5. Complete required instruction in Investigative Report Writing as
required by Training specifications for the Basic Law Enforcement
Course as mandated by the Calif. Commission on Peace Officer
Standards and Training.
Goodman, Debbie, REPORT IT IN WRITING, 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall, NJ,
POST Workbook, Investigative Report Writing, current edition.