How to Write a Police Report
Get The Facts
The most important part of police report writing is obtaining all of the facts. Generally, a
police officer will first make contact with a person who has a complaint about a criminal
legal issue , commonly referred to as the complainant. The complainant will most likely
have the best, most accurate information about the incident. This is one of the most
crucial parts of report writing because this is where the basis of the report starts. You
will need to gather information such as names, dates of birth, race/sex, residence, place
of occurrence, dates and times of occurrence, and facts about the incident. Also gather
information from witnesses, especially uninterested third parties since they gain little to
no benefit from providing you with accurate information.
Organize Your Information
All information gathered for a police report must be organized chronologically. When you
get to a scene and gather the information, write it down just as it happened. For
example, you could start your report by writing, "At 10:15 AM on September 12, 2009, I
responded to Joe's Laundry House at 123 4th St. in reference to a complaint of a theft."
Here, you have just established the date, the time, the location and the reason why you
are there. You could continue your synopsis by writing, "Upon my arrival, I met with Tim
Johnson, white male, date of birth 01/02/1987, who stated that an unknown person had
taken his $20.00 from his desk without his consent." Continue your report by adding
information that is pertinent to the case, such as what you observed at the crime scene
and what any witnesses said.
Format Your Report
Police reports should follow a basic format to ensure that all of the information that
needs to be included, is included. The written portion of your report will need to include
Synopsis - what the complaint is
Crime Scene - what you observed at the scene, to include what you might have
recovered as evidence
Witnesses - what any witnesses said
Case Status - what you did to resolve the incident (arrest, forward to an investigative
unit, and so on)
Use Plain Language
When writing a report, keep it simple. Use plain language that everyone can understand.
Remember, your colleagues at the department are not the only ones who will read your
report. Police reports are read by attorneys for the prosecution and the defense, judges,
the media and the public.