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Supervisor of 

Law Enforcement Training 
Sacramento State College 
Sacramento, California 

With a Foreword by 
Deputy Chief Inspector 
New York City 
Police Department (r^fi) 



"I believe the author's instructional 
material on the collection, selec- 
tion, and arrangenaent of nnaterial 
in police reports is realistically 
keyed to the learning level of the 
great mass of policemen and is the 
finest available material for police 
training officers and policemen 
interested in self -improvement, " — 
From the Foreword h v PAUL B. 

A police officer, student, and teach- 
er, Doctor Gammage writes with 
the authority of the lecture platform 
supported by years of experience as 
a working policeman. He makes no 
claim that this manual is a panacea, 
but he is convinced that thorough 
study and application of the princi- 
ples and procedures presented will 
produce better report writers . 

The introduction sets forth pur- 
poses , values , and principles in- 
volved in the preparation of reports . 
It is an effort to sell the practicing 
officer the idea that IN SUBMITTING 

inability in these mechanical aspects 
that causes the average police report 
to fall short of ideal. 

The third section deals with form 
preparation. FornxS utilized are the 
result of study of many in current 
use and are those developed with a 
view to emphasizing the desirability 
of narrative presentations. 

From the collection of the 


o Prennger 



V JJibrary 

San Francisco, California 


A Monograph in 

Edited by 


Professor of Police Administration 

Washington State University 

Pullman, Washington 




Siipeniisor of Lazv Enforcenioit Training 
Sacramento State College 
Sacra men lo. California 

With (I Foreioord by 

Deputy Chief liupector 

XeiL' York City Police Department (ret.) 

Assistant Professor 

S(ur(imr)ilo Slate College 

rc:r> etiCA 


Springfield ' Illinois ' U.S.A. 


Bannerstone House 

301-327 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A. 

This book is protected by copyright. Xo 
part of it may be reproduced in any manner 
without written permission from the publisher. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Nimiber: 60-14743 

With THOMAS BOOKS careful attention is given to all details of manu- 
facturing and design. It is the Publisher's desire to present books that are 
satisfactory as to their physical qualities and artistic possibilities and ap- 
propriate for their particular use. THOMAS BOOKS will be true to those 
laws of quality that assure a good name and good will. 


Printed in the United States of America 


Dedicated to m\ aunt, Mrs. Ed Snead 

62- 62347 



N AN OPERA HON AL LEVEL, the ability to describe a fugitive in 
a word picture that is a graphic representative of reality means 
prompt and rapid apprehension of criminals; sufficient aptitude 
to include all the essential elements of a crime in the few words of 
a court complaint means the people of the community will have 
an opjx)rtunity to convict a suspect of the crime charged; and the 
skill to sketch a police incident of today in some depth may mean 
the solution of tomorrow's crime. 

On an administrative level, the words of police officers form 
the reports that make up the raw data whose compilation and 
study permits management to exercise the necessary control for 
the expert and efficient administration of a police unit. 

In this text the qualities of factual prose necessary for police 
reports are thoroughly explained in an anatomical study of the 
mechanics of police report writing. Dr. Gammage sums up, with- 
out the waste of a single word, the selection and use of ^vords, the 
structure of sentences, and the development of paragraphs. Almost 
in passing, he tells his readers of suitable stopping places in their 
reports as he presents simple principles on the art of punctuation. 

A police officer, student, and teacher. Dr. Gammage writes 
with tlie authority of the lecture platform supported by years of 
experience as a ^vorking policeman. An excellent combination to 
launch new procedures in ferreting out facts during field note tak- 
ino, and detailing methods for recording them in a manner which 
permits the officer to marshal his facts according to a definite plan 
when he must report the incident and describe the police action 

I believe the author's instructional material on the collection, 
selection, and arrangement of material in police reports is realis- 
tically keyed to the learning level of the great mass of jjolicemen 

viii Basic Police Report Writiui^ 

and is the finest available material for police training officers and 
policemen interested in self-improvement. 

Dr. Gammage has recognized and apparently solved the legiti- 
mate claims of both the formal and the informal levels of language 
usage and is to be complimented on the fact that he has avoided 
the dogmatic narrowness of the prescriptive grammarians, though 
he has provided the police profession with a text which is not only 
instructional, but which will also serve as a ready reference to the 
appropriateness and correctness of the various forms of police re- 
ports, and the language used in their preparation. 

A Texan by birth and avocation, Dr. Gammage preaches the 
doctrine of direct sentences, for "telling 'em straight." This text 
is not a grammar book, though grammatical errors are detailed 
and some grammar introduced to show why such errors hinder the 
successftil commtmication of ideas. In hard-hitting "plain talk" 
the author explains the parts of speech and the relation of writing 
to thinking. He also explores the need for developing a style of 
writing which will reflect an officer's thinking in order that he may 
tell a story which subordinates the minor phases of an incident or 
police action, and hits the reader right between the eyes with the 
main idea. 

The emerging police profession may also erect another mile 
post since this book standardizes the methodology of police reports. 
Dr. Gammage has established national standards against ^vhich to 
evaluate the prevailing practices of an individtial policeman or a 
police department. The author has studied the standard practices 
of the top police units in the United States, both large and small, 
and qtiestioned police officers of all ranks who have qtialified as 
experts by field experience. Therefore, it can be safely stated that 
this book is an authoritative reproduction of accepted report \\'rit- 
ing procedures in reasonably prudent police departments. 

Paul B. Weston 

Deputy Chief Inspector 

New York City Police Department (ret.) 


X.N THE author's PERSONAL experience and as tlie result of inter- 
views and discussions with people in the police field, he is con- 
vinced that one of the greatest voids in the police procedures field 
is in tiie area of police report writing. Police practitioners at the 
performance level continue to struggle Avith their reports. Admin- 
istrators express a high degree of dissatisfaction with the routine 
reports submitted. Most interested parties agTee that the defi- 
ciencies stem from a lack of knowledge of the fundamentals on the 
part of the report writer. They also state that almost all recruit 
and refresher courses offered in the academies fail to accomplish 
the job of preparing police personnel in the art of report writing. 

This manual was written with the hope that it will solve some 
of the problems of both the practitioner and administrator as they 
relate to operational reporting. The author makes no claim that 
this manual is a panacea, but he is convinced that thorough study 
and application of the principles and procedures presented ^vill 
cause the reader to become a better report writer. 

The introduction is designed to actjuaint the reader with the 
purposes, \alues, and principles invoh cd in the preparation of re- 
ports. It is an effort to sell the practising oHicer the idea that in sub- 
mitting superior reports he not only is doing a professional job tor 
his department but is contributing to his own professional gro\\th. 

Part II is a guide to improve diction, spelling, capitalization, 
abbreviations, sentence structure, punctuation and paragraphing 
because it is inability in relation to these mechanical aspects that 
the average police report often falls short of the ideal. 

The third part deals with form preparation. The forms utilized 
are the result of study of many in current use and are those devel- 
oped with a view to emphasizing the desirability of narrative 
presentations. Beginning w'nU field note taking as the foundation 


X Basic Police Report Writing 

of operational reports, the reader is taken through the entire pro- 
cess from the recording of a reported incident to the many special- 
ized forms used in reporting investigations, arrests and the identi- 
fication of persons. 



HE AUTHOR IS DEEPLY gratclul t() Lt. J. L. Ross ol the Berkeley, 
California, Police Department; Lt. Edward T. Naylon, Holly- 
wood, Florida; Chief Bernard L. Garmire, Tucson, Arizona; Dep- 
uty Chief C. J. Staylor, Norfolk, Virginia; Superintendent Francis 
S. McGarvey, Division of State Police, Albany, New York; Chief 
Michael Murpfiy of the New York City Police Department; and 
Sgt. James Nance of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, all of 
whom contributed departmental forms and/or suggestions for the 

He also owes a special debt of gratitude to Mrs. Carol Larsen 
and Mr. Paul B. Weston, Deputy Chief Inspector, N.Y.C.P.D. 
(ret.) , who read the manuscript and offered their most helpful 

Last, but not least, thanks to Professor Nicholas DeLucia who 
provided the photographs and Miss L.ois Mouchett who ^vorked so 
faithfully in typing the manuscript. 




Foreicord by Paul B. W'esion vii 

Preface i>^ 



1. Dcfmiiioiis, Puiijoses. and Types ot Police Reports 5 

II. X'alues aiul Piindples in Police Reporting 9 


III. Selection and Use of Words 21 

IV. Spelling 31 

V. Capitalization and Xinnbers 51 

VI. Abbreviations 57 

VII. Sentence Structure 62 

VIII. Punctuation (37 

IX. Paragraph Construction 78 

X. Editing and C>ritici/ing the Report 82 


XI. Field Note Taking 93 

XII. Reporting the Case 109 

XIII. Reporting the Preliminary Investigation 124 

XIV. Special Preliminary Investigation Reports H3 

XV. Patrol Service Reports 168 

XVI. The Supj^lemeniary Progress Report LSI 

X\'II. Special Supplementary Investigation Reports 191 

XVIII. Final Investigation Rejjorts 212 

XIX. Arrest Repc:)rts 224 

XX. Property Control Reports 236 

\i\ C())i tents 

CJiapter Page 

XXI. Identification Reports 248 


A. Elements of Grammar 263 

B. Unitorm Classification ot Crimes 273 

C. Description of Property 280 

Bibliography 305 

Index 307 



Chapter I 



i-:bster's New Collegia ik Dictionary defines a report as an ac- 
count ot some subject specially investigated or an oHicial statement 
of tacts. According to this definition, police reports may l)e written 
or oral; they may he detailed or brief; they may be simple or com- 
plex; they may be prepared by anyone in the department from 
the chief to the patrolman on the beat. In any event, police re- 
porting has become one of the most significant processes in modern 
police operations. Reports result from the fact that someone has 
asked for them and needs them for innnediate or future use. They 
are made to be read and used. 

The larger the police department, of course, the greater the 
demand for reports. This is true because more information of dif- 
ferent kinds is required and because more people are at different 
places where things are happening. The chief of a large depart- 
ment finds it necessary to have a greater division of labor, to hire 
more employees, to delegate more activities to subordinates, to 
supervise a greater number of people, and often to watch over a 
larger area. 

Yet, any chief is responsible for all of the basic activities of his 
department. He must know what is going on throughout his 
agency, and in all departments, large or small, the principal \vay 
to determine what is going on is to require reports, to use proper 
reporting procedures, and to utilize the results. 

In fact, the field of police reporting, broadly interpreted, is the 
field of police connnunications. At whatever point work is divided 
and delegated, the jjrocess of reporting begins. At \\'hatever point 
policy is formulated or modified, the process of reporting is a 
"must." In government generally, as well as in police agencies, the 
matter of communicating is complex and presents a continuing 
problem. .Vll sorts ol information nuist, of course. How upward and 

6 Basic Police Report Writiiu^ 

downward through the department; but, in addition, and ecjually 
important in many cases, information must somehow be reported 
outward, across, and around. The setting of police reporting, then, 
is the entire field of communications. This means that the process 
of police reporting has at its disposal all of the Avays and means 
available in the broader field. This includes oral and written tech- 
niques and all of the known media developed for the exchange 
of information and ideas. But police experience indicates that 
written communication, in most cases, is the most effective; and, in 
any case, is the form of communication which presents greater 
problems for the department and the reporter. 


In general, a police agency develops its reporting system to 
serve four key purposes: (1) to account upward and outward for 
its activities and for the justification of its program; (2) to report 
upAvard and out^vard information concerning progress, futme 
needs and plans, and decisions being made or which may be made; 

(3) to report upward for purposes of administrative control; and 

(4) to inform doAvnward in the organization concerning policies, 
program, organization resources, procedures, and all other matters 
concerning the Avork in the agency. 

In reporting upward and outAvard the police agency takes into 
account the police organization itself; the mayor or city manager; 
the city council; the central government-wide service agencies 
such as the department of finance and the ci\'il service commission: 
and the general public. In reporting down^vard in the organi- 
zation the department must take into consideration all of the 
levels of responsibility and any special units or staffs which need 
to be kept informed of matters contained in a given report. In 
any of these situations a report may serve the useful purpose of in- 
terpreting facts, transmitting information, analyzing problems or 
situations, educating einployees and others, accounting to superior 
authority, or controlling within the department itself. 


In fact, the many purposes served by police reports and our 
system ot administrative independence have given rise to a number 

Types of I'oIkc Rcpoyts 7 

and variety of reports uliich, in suiiie tlcpariuiciits, arc adually 
appallino. As a result, the job of conducting a systematic dis( ussion 
of police reports is almost impossible. But speaking in broad terms 
and in a rather elementary way, we may classify all jiolice reports 
into two groups: informal and formal. 

An informal report usually is a letter or memorandum or any 
one of many prescribed or used in day-by-day police operations. 
It ( ustomarily carries three items besides the text proper: date sub- 
mitted, subject, and persons or person to whom submitted. It may, 
howe\er, contain many items of administrative importance along 
with the subject matter of the text. Actually, most police reports 
may be placed in this category. 

A formal report suggests the fidl-dress treatment, including 
co\er. title page, letter of transmittal, summary sheet, text, appen- 
dixes, and perhaps an index and bibliography. 

Another helpful plan for classifying police reports is based on 
the purpose of the report. Under this plan, any police report may 
be classified as either a performance, fact-finding, technical, prob- 
lem-determining, or problem-solution report. The performance 
report contains information as to the status of an activity, activi- 
ties, or operations. The fact-finding report involves the gathering 
and presentation of data in logical order, without an attempt to 
draw conclusions. A technical report presents data on a specialized 
subject. The problem-determining report attempts to find the 
causes imderlying a problem or to find whether or not a problem 
really exists. The problem-solution report analyzes the thought 
process that lies behind the solution of a particular problem. It 
may include all of the elements found in the other types of reports, 
including presentation of data collected, discussion of possible 
solutions to the problem, and an indication of the best solution. 

On the other hand, these rather informative classifications offer 
very little help in establishing a systematic arrangement of a ver- 
itable mass of police reports. Let's speak in more specific terms. 
For our purposes, police reports may be categorized as ojjerational 
reports, internal business reports, technical reports, and siunmary 

Operational reports include those relating to the reporting 
of police incidents, investigations, arrests, indentification of per- 

8 Basic Police Report Writing 

sons, and a mass ol miscellaneous reports necessary to the conduct 
of routine police operations. Interyial business reports relate to 
the reporting necessary to the management of the agency and in- 
clude financial reports, personnel reports, purchase reports, equip- 
ment reports, property maintenance reports, and general corres- 
pondence. As stated earlier, technical reports may present data on 
any specialized subject, but usually relate to completed staff work 
and add to the specific knowledge necessary to proper functioning 
of police management. Summary reports furnish intelligence in- 
formation necessary to the solution of crime, accident, and police 
administrative problems. In addition, public reports in this cate- 
gory are made in recognition of the importance of public attitude 
toward police operations and serve the useful purpose of keeping 
executive and legislative authority and the general public informed 
as to problems, progress, and needs of the police agency. 


This book deals only wath the first category— operational re- 
ports. These reports are the raw materials from which adminis- 
trative reports are derived; thus, in directing efforts to^vard im- 
proving these basic reports, the author believes that the \vhole of 
the reporting process can be improved. 

Chapter II 



o SOME EXTENT^ THE SHEER number and variety of police re- 
ports serve to illustrate their continuing value; but, in the final 
analysis, one might righthilly say that the benefits derived trom 
police reports are those associated with the entire police records 
system because reports are the raw materials from which records 
systems are made. Like the records themselves, a direct relation- 
ship exists between the efficiency of the department and the quality 
of its reports and reporting procedures. 


The progressive police administrator utilizes reports to the 
fullest extent in making decisions necessary to the management of 
his department. Much of the information necessary to arrive at 
sound decisions is gleaned from administrative reports that give 
a picture of present conditions and problems faced by the depart- 
ment, of tiie work of individual employees, and the activities of 
whole tniits dealing with these problems. 

The efficient police administrator utilizes reports to determine 
the character, extent, location, and time of occurrence of crimes 
and other incidents requiring police action. W'ith this informa- 
tion, he identifies police hazards, isolates the particular elements 
requiring attention, and directs his energies to eliminating the 
hazards or reducing their potency. Reports relating to traffic con- 
trol aid in the determination of engineering, educational, and en- 
forcement activities that will solve a particular traffic problem. 
They aid the police administrator in the distribution of man- 
power; and, when shifts occur in action requiring police attention, 
they tell the administrator where to concentrate his striking power. 
Using reports as an accounting device and a means of analysis of 
operations, certain measuring sticks, standards, or comparisons 
may he applied in appraising police efficiency. 


10 Brtsir Police Report Writi)ig 

Police reports aid in the fixing of responsibilities so that em- 
ployees may be held accoimtable for performance. They register 
assignments, and provide a check on the accomplishment of tasks. 
Adequate reports provide one of the principal aids to supervising 
officers in the management of personnel and help them in their 
routine work by showing the progress of investigations and reveal- 
ing deficient and improper handling of cases. Successful prosecution 
of criminals often depends upon the quality of the reports sub- 
mitted in an investigation, and these same reports contain a wealth 
of information useful in the identification and recovery of persons 
and property and the preservation and presentation of evidence in 

As the principal medium of communication in a department, 
police reports tend to integrate the various branches of the agency 
into one coordinated unit. They are useful in keeping the public 
informed of police problems and accomplishments, providing 
property inventories and records of equipment use, fostering the 
financial backing and sympathetic support necessary to the ac- 
complishment of programs, preparing the departmental budget, 
managing the department's fiscal affairs, and formulating plans so 
necessary in meeting future needs. 


On the other hand, the benefits derived from reports do not 
stop with the department. Prosecutors and the courts use them in 
preparing complaints and determining the specific violation that 
will be charged. They assist the court in determining the piniish- 
ment that will fit the offender. In siinple offenses some judges 
follo^v the practice of accepting the officer's report, reading it to 
the defendant, and passing judgment. 

Most police departments also permit representatives of the 
newspapers to read investigation reports. Since the press will print 
stories in any case, it is generally desirable to save the time and 
energies of newsmen and police officers by allo\v'ing reporters to 
obtain facts as they are gathered by the investigating officer. In 
the long run, the utilization of reports in this ^vay establishes im- 
proved public relations and eliminates highly colored statements 
made by individuals with personal interests at stake. 

J'dluc's ill l'()U((' lie Jx)) till ii; 1 I 

Reports are tlie principal source ol inloniiaLion in the depart- 
ment's efforts to assist other agencies. Every police department is 
frequently called ui)()n to assist others. Adequate reports facilitate 
notification of the police in other cities (oncerning wanted and 
missing persons, lost property, stolen automobiles, and other im- 
portant matters. This pooling of effort and information is a "must" 
in combating the modern criminal who moves rapidly from one 
area to another. Police reports are also usefid in calling pertinent 
conditions to the attention of other departments and agencies. 
They include such items as fire hazards, violations of health rules 
and the building code, damaged pavements and sidewalks, defec- 
tive street lights, and a multitude of similar matter. These munici- 
pal departments concerned often utilize the reports of the police 
department when they are Ijeing sued for alleged acts of negligence. 
Federal security and enforcement agencies find that reports main- 
tained in local departments are among their most valuable assets 
in conducting their investigations, and other governmental agen- 
cies and private individuals find in them the answers to many of 
their questions \\hen involved in surveys and other types of re- 


In fact, we might continue indefinitely to enumerate the bene- 
fits and uses of police reports as aids to the department, the courts, 
other governmental agencies, ne^vsmen, and private indi\iduals. 
But what about you as a practicing police officer? Are police re- 
ports also designed to help you? Yes. If you have not discoxered it 
previously, you will find them to be a stockpile of information. If 
you do your job well, you will check reports daily in the normal 
conduct of your job. Reports permit an interchange of information 
between you and other officers which can be accomplished in no 
other \\'ay. They are one of your principal sources of information 
in conducting investigations. The alphabetical files of almost any 
department contain thousands of name cards. These cards are 
searched daily by officers in checking a suspect's story, locating 
persons for the purpose of executing xvarrants of arrest, obtaining 
the names of friends in the process of locating wanted and miss- 
ing j:)ersons. and clearing c rimes to Avhicli sidojccts have confessed 

12 Basic Police Report ]\'riti)itj^ 

responsibility. Reports are especially helpful in the passing of a 
case from one officer to another, providing the necessary continuity 
in an investigation when you must take over on another officer's 
day off; when there is a change of fjeat; or when, as a detective, you 
continue an investigation after the preliminary stages are com- 
plete. In preparing cases for court, you must rely almost entirely 
upon reports previously made by you or others. Reports are the 
only source of information for the disposition of a case; they tell 
you whether the subject shoidd be prosecuted, reprimanded, or 
subjected to some other treatment. 

In the final analysis, your own reports should be of greatest 
concern to you because they are colored by your personal qualities. 
In all probability they reveal more about you than you realize. 
They say something about your education, training, experience, 
industry, ambition, initiative, resourcefulness, and oftentimes your 
fears. When they are evaluated by your superiors, they reveal your 
capabilities and incapabilities and establish a basis for commen- 
dation or criticism. 


All of the above facts should prove the importance of police re- 
ports to you and to everyone ^vho works for a police department, 
but the answer to the problem of reports and reporting procedures 
does not depend upon mere appreciation of values. The real 
answer lies in the quality of the end product. Quality is the result 
of accomplishment of basic principles; and, in this regard, all po- 
lice reports from a simple, brief memo to a complex, formal, in- 
vestigation report require the application of certain standards. In 
summary, any police report shoidd be clear, pertinent, brief, com- 
plete, current, accurate, fair, properly classified, informative, and 
objective. In addition, it should be submitted in proper form and 
on time. These standards or principles stem from the fact that 
reports are written to satisfy a need, and in order to satisfy the 
need they must satisfy the reader. In the first place, the reviewer is 
likely to be a busy man. His time is precious and his calendar 
allo\vs him little time for creative ^vork or concentration. In the 
second place, reports are regidarly read by people beyond the man 

Values in Police Rej)(j)tiN<!^ 13 

to whom they are addressed. When a report is to o() |)eyoiid tlie 
section, bnreau, or di\ ision, special care nuist be exerc ised to in- 
c hide adecpiate Ixackground intormation and to be sine tliat tlie 
report is complete. In the third place, the reader is depending upon 
the report to make his own decisions. Usually he must rely on the 
clarity, completeness, accuracy, fairness, and objectivity of a re- 
port and accept it as his own. With these tacts in mind let's take 
a closer look at the rules. 

The Report Should Be Clear 

Unless your report is as simple and direct as possible, it is not 
likely to be accepted or used. It shoidd include a clear statement 
of objecti\es or pmpose so that the reader can cjuickly evaluate 
it against this stated objective. 

The Report Should Be Pertinent 

Your report should deal exclusively with the stated objective 
or the subject or functions with which it states it is concerned. If 
other subjects are introduced, they should be related to the major 
one, and the relationship should be made clear. 

The Report Should Be Brief 

Although brevity is a relative matter and should depend upon 
the nature of your report and the use that will be made of it, it 
should be brief enough to be useful, but not so brief as to raise 
cjuestions about its validity. Brevity is achieved by avoiding ver- 
bosity and needless repetition, unnecessary detail, and all matters 
not bearing on the subject under discussion. It includes the ability 
to make your report unified, coherent, and emphatic. 

The Report Should Be Complete 

Within the dimensions of the assigmnent or stated objective, 
your report must be sufficiently exhaustive so that the reader can 
use it with confidence. Although again this is a relative matter, 
completeness means reporting all the facts you iiave learned which 
ha\e a bearing on the problem or case. Partially stated facts are 
as misleading as falsehoods. They can create a false picture in the 

14 Basic Police Report Writing 

iiiiiul ot the reviewer and cause him to make decisions \\hicli ap- 
l^ear ridiculous in view of the complete set of facts. The revie^ver 
\\ill know only as much about the problem or case as your report 
to him. He must make a decision solely on what he has read and 
not on what you have in mind. You must put into the report all 
the pertinent and relevant information developed during the 
course of your investigation; leave nothing to the revie\ver's imagi- 

The Report Should Be Current 

Unless the information in your report is up-to-date as of the 
time of its use, it is likely to cause un^vise or even erroneous de- 
cisions. Therefore, your report should be carefully dated, not only 
with respect to the time it was written, but as of the time the in- 
vestigation ended. In some situations even a few hours may render 
the information obsolete. 

The Report Should Be Accurate 

Unless your report is as accurate as possible, it may be embar- 
rassing to you, the chief, and to others. If there are errors of sub- 
stance or judgment, it raises doubts with respect to your methods 
of investigation, the preparation of the report, or in the com- 
petence of the person or persons w-ho evaluated it. In order to be 
accurate, you must conform to the truth. A report is an exact re- 
citation of the facts obtained without any addition or subtrac- 
tion. A fact is that ^vhich you know to be a fact by the use of any or 
all of your five senses. Any other information is hearsay; it must be 
given at the proper time and place in the report and labeled as 

The Report Should Be Fair 

Regardless of the type of report, fairness is essential to a good 
report. In some reports it may be difficult for you to be unbiased, 
but you must make every effort to recognize your difficulty and to 
eliminate its influence on your report. One way to achieve fairness 
is to report all of the facts. Nothing should be concealed or with- 
lield because it tends to weaken your case or because it doesn't fit 

]' allies ill I'olnc Rcjxxlni!^ 15 

your conclusion. Fairness can be achie\ecl by keeping an open 
mind. Take facts as you find them. Preconceived theories, theories 
based on guesses, may cause you to attempt to warp, twist, contort, 
and e\en to concoct lacts to fit tiiese pre\ ions ideas. II you remem- 
ber that as a report writer you are basically a iact-finder, you will 
eliminate this pitfall. 

The Report Should Be Properly Classified 

It the substance of your report deals with secret or classified 
information; or, if the nature of the report is one recpiiring con- 
fidential treatment until it is released, this should be clearly stated. 

The Report Should Be Informative 

Your report should present the subject understandably and 
give proper emphasis to the matter requiring attention or action. 
Where appropriate or possible, alternative actions should be sug- 
gested together ^vith the advantages and implications of each. 

The Report Should Be Objective 

As a ride, the tone and content of your report should be entire- 
ly free of propaganda. This should apply to the detail, to the points 
of emphasis, and to alternative recommendations if they are made. 
Even if recommendations are made in the report, they should be 
supported by evidence wiiich gives them the equality of reliability. 
If personal opinion is included, it should be presented at the ap- 
propriate time and place and clearly labeled. 

The Report Should Be Written in Proper Form 

Form refers to the arrangement of the material presented, the 
visual shape of the document, the mechanical set-up. It refers to 
anything that wall make your report more easily read and useful as 
a reference. It includes, among other things, proper paragraphing, 
proper indentation, proper underscoring, proper capitalization, or 
any device which sets out the important phases of the report. Form 
includes the proper setting forth of the various headings of the 
report and the pertinent material of each. It refers to the proper 
inc lusion of exhibits. It refers to the neatness of the report, the 

16 Basic Police Report W'ritifiii, 

spcllino, abbre\ iations, punctuation and preciseness of expression. 
It your report can be read easily, it the reviewer can find without 
diflic ulty those parts in \\hi(:h he is primarily interested, and if the 
dociuiient can be used eftecti\ely for later reference, the report 
form is adequate. 

The Report Should Be Presented On Schedule 

Unless your report is made promptly and according to schedule, 
it may lose its effectiveness or, worse still, may arri\'e after the need 
for it has passed. In order to take no undue risks in this matter you 
should plan the completion of your report ahead of the deadline. 
This allows for deliberate re-reading or even the adding of last 
minute data or events. It also allows a margin of time in which to 
present your report before the reviewer begins to be concerned 
about its being presented on time. And, if you wdsh to supplement 
your written report with an oral presentation, your opportunity 
to do so is enhanced if you are ahead of schedule. 


As an employee of a police department you must ne\er lose 
sight of the constantly useful purpose of police reports and the 
standards involving in writing them. If you keep these things in 
mind, you will be more willing to do the hard work necessary to 
learn how to write good reports. As in any other job, your re- 
wards from report writing will depend upon how ^vell you grasp 
the opportunities as they continually come your way. If you are 
a practicing police officer, these opportunities occur each and every 
day. Do the best job possible in writing your routine reports. 
Supervisors read them; administrators often see them. You should 
not be surprised at the fact that opinions as to the quality of all of 
your work are formulated, to a great degree, by the quality of the 
reports that you normally submit. Reports are the best gauge of 
the pride you take in yoin- work, the interest you manifest, the 
abilities you possess, and the knowledge you have accumulated. 

When you write outstanding reports, you open the door to 
other opportunities. Assume, for example, that an unsatisfactory 
condition is causing someone in a responsible position in the de- 

I'filiKw III I'oIkc Kcliorliii'^ 17 

paiinicnl to \v;iiu to inakc tliau.^cs. Lets assiinic, in ilic second 
place, that your past reporting efforts have been so outstanding 
that this responsible person selects yon to investigate and report 
yonr fnulings. Assinne, in the third place, that yon (after hard 
work, trial and error, some sweat and blood) come up witii a j)io- 
jiosal that is adopted and lonnd siiccessfid. Although these assimip- 
tions are strictly hypothetical, you may be certain that, it these 
statements were fact, you would be in an enviable position to en- 
joy the highest respect of your superiors and to assume even greater 
responsibilities in the future. 

On the other hand, it is impossible to do your job as recpiired 
unless ycni kno^v how to ^vrite acceptable reports. The complexity 
of modern police departments, the pressures of routine operations, 
and the way police Avork is done make report ^vriting as necessary 
as routine patrol and the inspection of police hazards. Because the 
final worth of a report depends upon its being read and under- 
stood, the demand for carefully prepared and clearly Avritten re- 
ports is unending. The ability to write reports will not only satisfy 
the needs of the department, other agencies, and individuals, but 
^vill also enable you to prove that you kno^v something and can 
express it. If no other rewards were possible, the priceless feeling of 
satisfaction resulting from a job well done should be worth the 
price you pay in the process of learning. One of the better ways to 
achieve this satisfaction is to eliminate the mechanical defects in 
your reports. Part II is an effort to help you to do this. 


Chapter III 


N POLICE REPORT WRITING, ^voicls aic your only tools of com- 
munication. They are symbols ol meaning, but unfortiniately you 
cant be sure that the meaning you give to a word will be the same 
as the meaning your reader will give to it. Communication actually 
begins when you find a ^vord to express a meaning; it is not com- 
plete until your reader has understood. Cause him to understand 
through the use of an adequate vocabulary and the selection of 
the right words to carry your ideas to him. 


Your vocabulary is the supply of Avords '^vhich you possess for 
use in writing. This supply consists only of those Avords which you 
can use effectively. Your vocabulary gro^vs in proportion to the 
demands made upon it. Any officer Avho can get along in his work 
with a few hundred \\ords is not likely to learn more. Memorizing 
ten new Avords a day does no good, unless there is occasion to use 
the new Avords. On the other hand, any active police officer writes 
reports each and every day; report \vriting offers an excellent op- 
portunity to use a vocabulary. Ordinarily, new words or new 
meanings for familiar words are first encountered in reading. Thus 
extensive reading of literature in the police field is recommended. 
One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to cultivate 
the habit of accurate reading, trying to see exactly why an author 
uses a particular word. 

Along with careful reading, learn how to use the dictionary 
and then use it. A dictionary is very carefully edited, and every 
symbol, abbreviation, or change of type means something. The 
signs are explained in the introductory section, and you need to 
be familiar with those in the dictionary that you most often con- 
sult. A good dictionary contains a great deal of useful information 


22 Basic Police Report ]Vritinii 

besides definitions. Yon will find the pronunciation, spelling of 
comparative and superlative forms, and the etymology of words. 
II you become thoroughly interested in a word and learn about 
it, this ^vord probably ^vill become a part of your vocabidary. 

In yoin- report writing, you must develop the habit of looking 
tor the exact word that expresses your meaning, rather than writ- 
ing the first word that comes to your mind. Instead of writing that 
the attitude of the \vitness Avas uncooperative, try to find a ^vord 
that indicates more precisely the grounds for your disapproval. 
Accurately discriminating the meaning of the ^vords you ^vrite \vill 
increase your vocabulary and make possible a more precise expres- 
sion of your ideas in reports. 


Your choice of words, or diction, can be the source of great 
difficulty between you and your reader. What can you do to pre- 
\'ent misunderstanding? 

Define Your Audience 

WHien you sit doAvn to Avrite a report, one of the first thoughts 
that should come into your mind is: Who Avill read what I ^vrite? 
Remember that you are writing for real people in the police de- 
partment, probation department, district attorney's office, or may- 
be for the general public. As a general rule, material written for 
the chief of police or the district attorney is not suitable for the 
patrolman a\ ith lesser experience or academic background; on the 
other hand, the fact that your reader may have a college degree 
should not encourage you to force difficult written materials on 
him. Yoin- reports can be simple enough to be read w^ith ease by a 
poor reader and yet be interesting enough to hold the attention of 
a good reader. Define your audience and keep your writing at a 
level that they will understand. 

Adjust Your Words to An Appropriate Reading Level 

Much of your reader's ability to luiderstand what you Avrite 
depends upon his education and experience. General surveys of 
the formal educational level of personnel in police departments 

ScUution (1)1(1 I'.sc (>l WOkIs 23 

reveal that a iiia)oiiLy ol policemen, supeix isois, and adminisiia- 
tive personnel have completed high school training. 

What does this mean to yon as a report writer in a police de- 
partment? Simply this. It yon want yonr reports to be comfortably 
understood by most readers, adjust the reading level at least two 
grades below the educational level of the majority ^vho are to be 
reached. Police personnel represent the average reading public, 
and sinveys have also re^ealed that widely popular reading ma- 
terial goes no higher than the tenth grade. Why? Because people 
can comfortably understand material up to the tenth grade level; 
only a relatively small portion of the population feels at ease with 
more difficult reading. Forced to read material above the t^velfth- 
grade level, your reader finds it increasingly difficult to imder- 
stand. When you give him easy reading, he gets the meaning you 
intend. He never says that reading is too clear. He may, however, 
say that your ideas are too simple, but that is another matter. 

You may feel that these rules are oversimplified — that they 
ignore the large number of people in the department who have 
gone beyond the t^velfth grade and who should, therefore, be able 
to read and master difficult reading materials. You are on the de- 
fensive, though, for your reader, no matter what his education and 
experience, will be grateful for easy reading. Why make him work 
harder than necessary just because you can do the task? State your 
ideas simply by the use of words that your reader readily under- 
stands. Reports in a police department, for patrolman or chief, 
should not get in the way of the work to be done. 

Read your daily newspaper. Reader's Difi;rsl. or Time. Notice 
the level of reading material presented. The publishers of these 
periodicals know the reading level of the a\ erage reader and keep 
their publication at that level. This should be a good guide for you 
in establishing a reading level for your reports. 

Use Words That Are Specific, Concrete, and Definite 

A vague statement is not only dull and unimpressive, but al- 
most empty of meaning. Cieneral statements and abstract words 
have their uses, bin most people o\ erdo them in the hope of sound- 

24 Basic Police Report Writing 

ing impressive or of concealing tlieir ignorance. Use concrete terms 
like ran, limped, or crawled instead of a general term like pro- 
ceeded or a colorless word like went. You are supposed to know 
exactly \vhat you mean; if you don't, vague general terms ^vill not 
help you and probably will convey the wrong idea to your reader. 
Abstract words are difficult to understand because they do not 
represent experiences which your reader can mentally see, feel, 
hear, touch, or smell. Concrete words, on the other hand, are more 
likely to have meaning because they are related to the five senses. 
They deal directly with experiences common to both you and your 
reader. If you want to get your idea across to your reader, use con- 
crete words. Abstract ^vords increase difficulty; concrete words im- 
prove readability. 

Be Concise 

Unnecessary words dilute your writing. They will often suggest 
that you do not know, or do not care about, what you are saying; 
for beating around the bush is a common trick of writers Avho are 
trying to cover up a lack of real content. If what you have to say 
is worth saying, it should be concentrated and emphatic. 

Conciseness is not the same as brevity. It is relatively easy to be 
brief; you just leave out details and say less. Conciseness, on the 
other hand, means saying the same thing in fewer words. It is not 
always a virtue to be brief, for the details are often necessary. But 
it is always good practice to be concise. 

Wordiness is often caused by the bad habit of restoring to 
ready-made phrases and sentence patterns. Many people can't 
write dark without adding the adjective pitch. You should elimi- 
nate stilted and automatic phrasing and wordiness ^vhen you proof- 
read your report. First drafts should be carefully edited and re- 
vised to eliminate wordiness. 

Very often a single word Avill do the \\ork of a whole mouthful 
of words — and do it better. A single little word, for example, may 
take the place of a group of words, like these: 

of the order of magnitude of about 

for the purpose of for 

in the nature of like 

along the lines of like 

Selection and Use of Words 25 

prior to before 

subsequent to after 

in connection with by, in, etc. 

with respect to about, in, etc. 

with regard to about 

in the amount of ff>r 

on the basis of by or from 

in accordance with by 

on the occasion of when, on 

in the event that if 

in the case of if 

in view of the fact that since, because 

for the reason that since 

with a view to to 

despite the fact that though 

give consideration to encourage 

liave need for need 

give encouragement to courage 

make inquiry regarding inquire 

comes into conflict with conflicts 

give information to inform 

make note of noted 

is of the opinion beheves 

Sometimes you can make a word or two do the work of a whole 

clause, like this: 

information which is of a confidential nature . . . confidential infor- 

Avoid the Use of Unnecessary Legal Terms 

All police operations are based on laws; it is not strange that 
many legal terms are used in police reports. Some of these are nec- 
essary. However, too many of them impart an undesirable legalis- 
tic flavor. Let's "ditch" the unnecessary legal phrases. In addition 
to soimding legalistic, they are stuffy; and some are hard to under- 

For this Substitute tJiis 

in lieu of i" pl^ce of 

the other party tl^t^ other person 

interrogated the witness asked the witness 

such statement this statement 

said informant the informant 

hold in abeyance wait, postpone action 

the subject typewriter this typewriter 

26 Basic Police Report Writing 

Let's completely eliminate herewith, hereto, herein, hereby, 
thereof, therein, thereon, and the aforesaid. 

Avoid Technical Words 

Like legal terms, technical language can be very accurate and 
useful. But ^v'hen your reader doesn't have a technical background 
these Avords can be very discouraging to him, Don't use fine dis- 
tinctions in words when these distinctions are not needed. Some 
writers often spend time quibbling about technical niceties which 
have no real meaning for the reader. WHien you must use technical 
words, and you think that your reader will not understand them, 
explain them. 

Avoid the Use of Elaborate Words 

Probably one of the better ^vays to suffer criticism in police re- 
porting is to become addicted to fancy, overformal, pseudotechni- 
cal language. In this kind of report, the officer never "does" any- 
thing; he ahvays "performs" it. Nor does he "begin" an investiga- 
tion; he "initiates" or "inaugurates" it. Then he doesn't merely 
"end" it; he "terminates" or "consummates" it. "Phony" formality 
will drive you to substitute stuffy words for plain ones: "secure" 
for "get," "utilize" for "use," "effectuate" for "carry out," ascer- 
tain" for "learn," or "subsequent to" for "after." A determined 
effort to keep yoin- reports free of unnecessary elegant and stilted 
language Avill pay. This kind of language is harder for anyone to 
understand. It takes longer to read and raises roadblocks against 
communication. Choose the simplest word that clearly carries your 
meaning, for simplicity is the essence of dignity and strength. 

Avoid Bookish Words 

W^ords or phrases may also be described as bookish or plain. 
Although it is not suggested that you eliminate bookish ^vords 
from your vocabulary, they are words that appeal to but fe^v read- 
ers; plain ones reach everybody. 

For this Substitute this 

Accordingly, consequently Vnd so 

Furthermore Also 

Hence, thus Therefore 

Scire lion tiud Use of Words 27 

Likewise \n<l 

Moreover Also 

Nevertheless But 

That is to say In other words 

To be sure Of course 

Coiiverselv On the other hand 

Avoid Trite Words 

W^ords or pi i rases may also be labeled as trite or fresh. Trite 
words or phrases are those that have been so overworked that they 
have become stale and common; fresh ones, although in ordinary 
use. attract your reader because of their simplicity. 

Trilr Fresh 

Instead oj this Try this 

Afford an opportunity Allow 

Are desirous of Want to 

Experience has indicated that We learned 

In a manner similar to Like 

It is recommended that consideration 

be given to We recommend that 

In a situation which When 

Makes provisions for Does 

Takes appropriate measure Acts, does 

The fullest possible extent The most 

This department is cognizant of We know 

With due regard for For 

Avoid Scatterbrain Words 

More troublesome even that useless words are "scatterbrain" 
words. This kind of word scatters its meaning over a ^vide area. It 
can mean so many different things that a reader must figure out 
what idea it is supposed to have. Many times he can't tell. 

Here is an excerpt from a technical police report. Italics show 
the scatterbrain words: 

The policy of the police department with respect to the men dur- 
ing off-duty hours is that they should be used in a ratio to on-duty 
men in a proportiontite amount to be predicated on the extent of 
the emergency. 

A reader can figure out what the italicized words mean if he 
thinks a bit. The troul^le is that these words don't focus on the 

28 Basic Police Report Writing 

subject matter. The message that the words sought to communi- 
cate was fairly simple. It could have been stated as follows: 

The police department may need to use off-duty men during 
emergencies, but these men should be used as sparingly as possible. 

Avoid Smothered Verbs 

To communicate knowledge, you must communicate ideas and 
relationships between ideas. A verb is a relation-showing word. A 
smothered verb, then, is one that is kept from clearly showing a re- 
lationship. A verb is smothered when it is buried inside another 
word. Some smothered verbs are italicized in the following sen- 

It has been pointed out that, in the police department, careful 
initial selection and classification are important procedures in elimi- 
nating potential maladjusted personnel. 

Each of the italicized verbs, because it is buried in another 
word, has lost its power to state a clear relationship. You can re- 
store the power of the verb by linking an idea to it. For example, 
the first smothered verb in the sentence quoted is select, buried in 
selection. It prompts the question: Who selects what? To answer 
that question, create this thought: The police department selects 
people. Through the same type of reasoning you can either restore 
the other verbs in the sentence or eliminate them completely. Your 
revised sentence might read like this: 

As has been said, if the police department selects and classifies per- 
sonnel carefully at the outset, it will have fewer maladjusted people. 

Use the Level of Diction Appropriate to the Situation 

Certain words are appropriate in formal or literary ^vriting. 
Police reports are informal by nature. Do not use literary termi- 
nology. On the other hand, colloquial terms, popular slang, and 
vulgar words should not be used unless in direct quotation. For 
the most part the informal English of the educated is appropriate; 
use other forms only ^\ hen you must. 

Use Proper Grammar 

Some of the more common errors in diction result from lack 
of understanding of grammar. Don't be guilty of grammatical 
errors. Follo^v these rules. 

Selection (ind L'.se of l\'or(ls 29 

Don't sul^stitutc an adjectixe for an acKerbial construction. 
Wrong: Vhc suspect was real surprised when lie saw us. 
Right: The suspect was really surprised when he saw us. 
Wrong: The condition of the \ictini was some improved. 
Right: The condition of the xictim was somewhat improved. 

Note: After verbs of the senses (look, sound, smell, taste, feel) , 
following he. seem, appear, an adjective is used unless the verb ex- 
presses action. 

The witness looked angry, (adjective) 

The witness looked at us angrily, (adverb) 

Don't split your infinitives. 

Wrong: He agreed to readily go with us. (split infinitive) 

Right: He readily agreed to go with us. 

Don't substitute a preposition for a conjunction. 

Wrong: The investigation report is not acceptable without the 
officer signs it. 

Right: The investigation report is not acceptable unless the officer 
signs it. 

Wrong: The victim was fond of athletics like other boys are. 

Right: The victim was fond of athletics as other boys are. 

Don't use an adverb for a noun clause or phrase. 

Wrong: The reason the witness was there was because he was asked 

to remain. 
Right: The reason the witness was there was that he was asked to 


Don't use a pronoun that does not agree in number with the 
nomi to ^\'hich it refers. 

Wrong: There may be many types of patrol in a single police depart- 
ment, but its principles of organization will be the same. 

Right: There may be many types of patrol in a single police depart- 
ment, but their principles of organization will be the 

Avoid double negatives. Negati\es are not to be used with 
hardly, scarcely, only, and but when these words are used in the 
same sense as only. 

Wrong: The victim states that she hasn't no place to go. 

Right: The victim states that she has no place to go. 

Wrong: The four of us couldn't hardly pull the victim frc^m the river. 

Right: The four of us could hardly pull the victim from the river. 

Wrong: There wasn't but one place to look. 

Right: There ivas but one place to look. 

30 Basic Police Report Writing 

Avoid unnecessary repetition. Repetition for emphasis is some- 
times useful, but repetition often serves no purpose. This is true 
of the words in parentheses. 

This will enable an officer to conduct arrests more effectively (than 

if he waits until a later date) . 

The survey is nearly complete (at the present time) . 

The situation calls for quick, (and expeditious) action. 

The chief of police is authorized to (do and) perform the following 

(designated) duties (and functions) . 


No\v, if you really want to do sometliing about words, proofread 
each report that you submit. Follow the suggestions as presented 
in this manual. On a long-term basis, follow some suggestions by 
Santmyers. They will aid you in the selection of words and in in- 
creasing your vocabulary. 

1. Equip yourself with the following books: 

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G. 8c. C. Merriam Co. 

Fernald's English Synonyms and Antonyms, Funk and Wagnalls 


Roget's Tliesannis of English Words and Phrases, Garden City 

Publishing Company. 

Opdycke's Get It Right, Funk and Wagnalls Company. 

2. Every day select from your reading or from what you hear two 
words to be looked up in the dictionary, in the thesaurus, and in 
the book of synonyms. 

3. Say the words aloud until you know their correct pronunciation. 

4. Use the words in a written statement about something that inter- 
rests you. 

5. Tell a friend or working partner about the two words. 

6. Occasionally select two words you have been using for a long time. 
Look them up. You will be surprised to know how many of them 
have useful hidden meanings— meanings that will serve you when 
you must find words to make your ideas clear to certain groups 
or particular readers. 

Words are the expression of your thoughts. Get as many of them 
as you can; they will help you to make your thoughts clear to others. 
Know your words so that you can be friendly with them and not fight 
them. They are not slaves they are friends.^ 

^Sclby S. Santmyers: Practical Report Writing. Scranton: Laurel Publishers, 1950, p. 16. 

Chapter IV 

A ROBABLV THE BEsi EVIDENCE of ignoiaiicc and laziness in police 
report ^vriting is poor spelling. There is no legitimate excuse for 
it because e\ery word in a rei:)()rt can be spelled correctly without 
taxing the mentality of the writer. People are not born knowing 
how to spell, nor has ability to spell much to do with intelligence. 
It is almost entirely a matter of habit; therefore, poor spellers need 
not be discouraged. If you are a poor speller, a reasonable amount 
of persistent practice will make a satisfactory speller out of you. 

It is not necessary to learn all of the more than 600,000 words 
that are in the dictionary. Actual surveys indicate that a fe^v hun- 
dred words cause most of the trouble. Really difficult words are 
seldom misspelled. You can always look them up. The words that 
cause trouble are everyday Avords like receive and occurred, which 
are used so frequently that no one goes to the bother to look them 


Every squadroom should have a good dictionary as permanent 
epuipment. If the police agency does not furnish one, you and 
others should pool a few cents each and buy one. 

Another very valuable book to any report waiter is a publica- 
tion by the Gregg Publishing Division of McGraw-Hill Com- 
pany. This book, 20,000 Words, is so small that you can hold it in 
the palm of your hand. Twenty thousand words are spelled, di- 
vided, and accented. Its value rests in the saving of time in looking 
for words. The book is based upon the very truthful assumption 
that, in nine cases out of ten, w-hen you go to the dictionary it is to 
find how to spell a ^\•ord or how to divide it at the end of a line. 
Much space has been sa\ed by the elimination of short, easy \\ords 
that present no spelling problem and others that are seldom used. 
Restricting the list to the W'Ords actually needed makes the ^vords 


32 Basic Police Report Writing 

that you need much more easily found. You can find the word you 
need in this book in a few seconds. 

After writing a report, check the entire rough draft for mis- 
spelled \vords. Look up all words that seem to be misspelled. 

It you are a poor speller, practice constantly in trying to im- 
prove your spelling. Form a habit of looking at words letter by 
letter. Most people read without seeing individual letters at all, so 
that ordinary reading will not suffice. Spell the words out, a letter 
at a time; say them out loud; write the letters as you say them. A 
^\ ord of caution, use this technique only with the idea of improving 
your spelling; it won't improve your reading speed or comprehen- 

In reading ^vords letter for letter you will discover certain 
danger spots. You will find that a single vowel in the Avord or a 
combination of two letters is the danger spot. Locate these danger 
spots and concentrate on them. 

By concentration on the word you may be able to spell many 
Avords of Avhich you have had some doubts. Words of more than 
one syllable are made up of a stem word and a prefix or suffix. The 
word disappoint is made up of the verb appoint and the prefix 
dis. Spell the word appoint, add the prefix dis, and you have 
spelled your troublesome word correctly. Become familiar with the 
common prefixes and suffixes; they will prove very helpful in your 

A list of several hundred words is included in the pages Avhich 
follow. These are the words commonly misspelled by most police 
report writers. Learn how to spell all of them. 

Finally, some common words can be spelled by rule. The rules 
are presented also. However, you should be cautioned that spelling 
rules may give you trouble rather than help you. If you use a rule, 
be sure that you know what the rule is and where it applies. Learn 
the rules and experiment; see if they help. If they help you, use 
them; if they do not, pay no attention to them. 


Consonants and Vowels 

All words are made of consonants or voAvels or a combination 
of them. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes iv and y. All 
other letters of the alphabet are consonants. 

spelling 33 

Basic Spelling Rules 

"Words of one syllable and words of more than one syllable 
accented on tiie last syllable and ending in a single consonant pre- 
ceded by a single vowel— double the final consonant before add- 
ing a suffix beginning with a vowel. 

The word run is a single syllable word ending in a consonant, n. The 

consonant is preceded by a single vowel, u. Thus, when something is 

added to the end of the word (a suffix) double the final consonant, n.. . . 

The suspect was seen running from the scene. 

bag baggage hot hottest fun funny 

The word occur has two syllables. The accent is on the last syllable, 

cur. Thus, the above rule also applies. 

occur occurred prefer preferred 

NOTE: If the accent shifts when the suffix is added, the consonant is 
not doubled. 

For example, the accent shifts in the word prefer when the 
suffix ence is added. Thus the resulting word is spelled pre- 

Words ending in a silent e usually drop the e before adding a 
suffix beginning with a vowel, but retain the e before a suffix be- 
ginning with a consonant. 

For example, the word hope ends in a silent e. The final e is dropped 
before adding the suffix ing. Thus, we have hoping. 
On the other hand, the e is retained when the suffix /?// is added be- 
cause the suffix begins in a consonant. Thus, the resulting word is 
spelled hopeful. 

Exceptions: Words ending in ce and ge retain the e before suffixes be- 
ginning with a or o, such as able and ous. The final e is also retained 
to prevent mispronunciation or confusion in meaning. 
Examples: courage courageous 

peace peaceable 

singe singe singeing (not to be confused 

with singing) 

Words ending in y preceded by a consonant change y to i ^vhen 
adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. On the other hand, the 
final }' is retained ^vhen the suflix begins with /. 

For example, the word fry ends in y. The )' changes to i when the suffix 

ed is added, (fried) 

study studied 

The word study ends in y and the final )' is retained when the suffix 
ing is added, (studying) 

34 Basic Police Report Writing 

Words \vith the ei or ie combination usually have i before e ex- 
cept after c or when sounded as a. A final ie is changed to y when 
the suffix begins with i. 

The word believe offers a good example of the first part of the rule. 

In the word receive the ei or ie combination is preceded by c; thus, 

the ei combination is used. 

In the word die the ie is changed to y before a syllable beginning with 

ij Thus, we have dying. 

Exceptions may be found in such words as neither, foreigner, finan- 
cier, seize, forfeit, their, weird, heights, and leisure. 

A ^vord ending in y preceded by a consonant forms its plural by 
changing y to i and adding es. 

The word baby ends in y. The y is preceded by b a consonant. Thus, 
the plural of baby is spelled babies. 
lady ladies ally allies 

A noun ending in y preceded by a vowel forms its plural by ad- 
ding s. 

The word valley ends in _v- The y is preceded by the vowel e. Thus, 
the plural of valley is spelled valleys. 

Proper names ending in y do not change y to i even though pre- 
ceded by a consonant. 

Murphy Murphys Mary Marys 

A word ending in o preceded by a vowel forms its plural by ad- 
ding s. 

folio folios radio radios 

A word ending in o preceded by a consonant usually forms its 
plural by adding es. 

cargo cargoes tomato tomatoes potato potatoes 
Some exceptions include musical terms such as alto, solo, etc. 

Most Avords ending in / or fe form their plurals by changing / 
or fe to V and adding es. 

thief thieves knife knives self selves 
leaf leaves wife wives life lives 

AVords ending in ful form their plurals by adding s. 
barrelful barrelfuls cupful cupfuls 



Coiiipomul words loriii iIru pluials by adding j> lo the piiiici- 

jjal word. 

son-in-hivv soiis-in-law 

slcp-iailicr step-fathers 

editor-in-chief editors-in-chief 

\\'t)r(ls dcrixcd honi a torcign language usually retain their 
foreign |)hiral lornis. Sometimes two forms are permissible. 
us chanties lo i aUinmus ahnnni 

a changes to ae ahinma aknnnae 

urn changes to n memoranchnu memoranda curriculum curricuhi 

Oft changes to a phenomenon phenomena criterion criteria 
































aggrava te 







all right 




































^Learn this list of words, ten words at a time. Once you have mastered them, the 
author believes that most of your spelling problems in police reports will be at an end. 


Basic Police Report Writing 



















































































































































































































































Basic Police Report Writing 















































































































































post me 

pra( tical 

prac tice 


precli( tif)n 

















































1 educe 



















Basic Police Report Writing 































































































































X ray, n. 


x-ray, adj., v. 












Homonyms are simple words; those in use by all people each 
and every day. Tliey are words having the same, or nearly the 
same, pronunciation; but they differ from each other in origin, 
meaning, and spelling. An error in the use of such words is an error 
in spelling. Study the following list carefully; misuse of such words 
is common in police reports. 

List of Homonyms 




To comply with. 
To surpass. 



To take, receive. 
To exclude. 





Admittance, admission. 


A passagewa) between rows of seats, 

An island. 












A place of worship. 

To change. 

A.ct of rising; motion upward. 


Anything: slightest thing. 
Should; is obligated. 

A bundle or package of goods; to make 

into bale or bales. 

To set free or liljcratc from arrest on security. 

Naked; unconcealed; simple; unfurnished. 

Plantigrade carnivorous mammal. 


Basic F()li((' Report Writing 


























A oroundwork or lundanicntal principle 
of anything. 

The plural of base; the parts of things on 
v\hi( li they rest. 
.\ part of the verb "to be." 
Receptacle for any commodity. 
A sleeping place on a ship or railway car; 

The act of coming into life: lineage; de- 
scent; origin. 

One who is furnished with food, for a com- 
The outer part or edge of anything. 

Innate; inherited. 

Past participle of verb "to bear." 

Portion of a tree. 

The forepart of a ship; a weapon for dis- 
charging arrows. 

A mechanical device for checking the mo- 
tion of a vehicle. 
To separate; interrupt; fracture; violate. 

A marriage. 

The head-stall by which a horse is con- 
trolled; a restraint. 

To purchase. 

A preposition. 

Aside; in reference to position, direction 

of purpose. 

P.ecord of time. 

Finishing machine used in the manufacture 

of paper, cloth. 

A strong cloth. 

To solicit thoroughly; to scrutinize. 

Money invested; seat of government. 
Goverimient building. 

To grant; give up. 
That from which plant life grows. 

A small room in a prison; a small cavity. 
The act of selling. 



cent (s) 

scent (s) 


























1-1(10 ol a dollar: a coin or coins of this 


Odor or odors kit by ptrstjn or animal. 

Sound pcricption and reasoning. 

Anv grain food. 

.Arranged in a series; appearing in suc- 

cessi\e numbers. 

\ yielding uj). as of territory, property or 


A meeting of a group. 

A group of singers. 
Twenty-four sheets of paper. 

A string of a musical instrument; notes in 


A string; a measure of wood. 

Summon to appear in court; to quote. 
The act of seeing; perception. 
Local position; ground plot. 

Rough, large. 

Direction; part of a dinner, action taken, a 

subject in school. 

That which fills or completes. 

To congratulate. 


Letter and newspaper writers. 

An asseml)lv of men or women summoned 
for deliberation. 
.An attorney; advice. 

A small fruit. 

Tide; electricity; belonging to the present. 

Loved; precious; costly. 

.A name for ruminants the male of which 

have branched horns. 

Respect; courtesy; regard for others' wishes. 


Going down; coming down. 

Proper; right; suitable. 

Difference of opinion; disagreement. 


Basic Police Report Writing 






















To forsake; abandon. 

A course of fruit, sweets, etc. 

Moisture in little drops. 

Owed or owing; payable; proper; triljute or 


A part of the verb "to do;" completed; 

cooked sufficiently. 

To take on; invest with. 

A dull brown color; an urgent request for 

payment of a debt. 

Expressing or composed of the number two. 

A combat between two persons with deadly 


To change the color. 

To cease to live; finish. 

The act of changing color. 

At the point of death; about to die. 

Beautiful; blond; just. 

Cost of travel. 

Notable achievement or performance. 

Parts of the human body. 

Onward in time, place, or order; forward. 

One of four equal parts. 

Play for money; to squander. 
Dance or skip about; frolic. 
A frame of iron bars holding the fuel in a 
furnace; to produce a harsh sound; to re- 
duce to small particles by rubbing. 
Eminent; foremost; large; many. 








Frozen raindrops; a call or salutation. 
Healthy: hearty. 
A large room; a passageway. 
To pull or draw; a single catch. 
To restore to health; remedy. 
The back part of the human foot. 
To perceive by the ear; to listen to. 
This place. 
















Tasl tciibL' ol the verb "to hear." 
A collection of sheep or cattle; crowd. 
One who succeeds another in possession of 

The mixture of gases which we breathe: the 
\Vhiic: ancient. 
A prostitute. 

A treasurer laid up secretly. 
A vast multitude; a large crowd. 
Rough and harsh in sound. 
A hoofed animal used for riding or drawing 

A cavity: hollow place; a difficulty or di- 

.\11 of anything. 

A measure of time; sixty minutes. 
A possessive pronoun. 







To cause trouble, uprising. 

An inner knowledge; understanding. 

To charge with an offense. 

To compose and write (a document) 

Example: case; illustration. 

Particular moments of time. 

A possessive pronoun. 

Contraction of "it is." 











Past tense of the verb "to know." 
Recent in origin: modern; fresh. 

A metal. 

Guided, past tense of the verb "to lead." 

Past tense of verb "to lease." 

The smallest of two or more things. 

To make smaller. 

That which a pupil learns; exercise. 

To lay a burden on or in. 

A vein of ore. 


liasir Police Report Writing 
















That which one lends or borrows. 

Method: habit: custom; aspect. 

A district: a district over which a feudal 

lord held authority. 

A narrow ornamental slab over a fireplace. 

A loose cloak or cape; a sheath. 

A luird substance having certain physical 


Spirit; fortitude; temperament. 

An vuiderground worker in a mine. 

Under full age of majority; less. 

Not any. 

A female devoted to a religious life and 


A local law enacted by a municipal govern- 
Arms; munitions. 














Physical or mental suffering. 
A window glass. 
Two things of a kind. 
To cut away little by little; reduce. 
A fleshy, edible fruit. 

Past tense of the verb "to pass;" went by. 
Having been; gone by; completed. 
The quality of being patient. 
Those who suffer pain; persons under medi- 
cal treatment. 

State of rest or tranquillity; calm. 
A part of anything. 
Simple; flat land. 
A tool for smoothing a surface. 
A minute hole in the skin. 
To empty: send forth: give vent to; utter. 

Priority; superior rank. 
Previous acts used as guides. 




princ ipal 



















The state or cpiality of being present. 

Chief: the original sum; the head of a 

A finulamcntal trutli; a settled rule of ac- 

Pecuniary gain; to benefit; reap an advan- 
One who foretells future events. 

Water in drops from the clouds. 

To exercise authority over; to rule. 

The strap of a bridle; an instrument for 

curbing: restrain. 

To cause to rise: lift up; elevate; originate 

or produce; collect. 

To level to the ground; blow out. 


A large coarse grass, with jointed hollow 

stems; tube of musical instrument. 

Place of abode. 

Those who dwell in a place. 

Correct; privilege. 


To inscribe by hand. 

A workman; an artificer. 

A part in a play; a function assumed by 


To cause to revolve by turning o\er and 


Mechanical repetition; learning without 


Past tense of the verb "to write." 






A sheet of canvas spread to catch the wind. 
The act of selling; a market; auction. 

The line formed by sewing two pieces of 

cloth together. 

To appear; look; pretend. 

A twilled woolen cloth. 

A large wave or billow; great roll or pull. 


Basic Police Report Writing 





l"o unite or fasten together with thread. 
An adverb: in a like maimer or degree. 
Past tense of the verb "to shine;" was bright 
or beautiful. 

Past tense of the verb "to show;" exhi- 
The iniderside of the foot; a flat fish. 

























The spiritual or immortal part in man; 

Denoting an indeterminate number or 
Whole; total. 
Staying in one place. 
Writing supplies. 
To take without right. 
Iron refined with carbon. 
A fence; barrier. 

Not crooked or curved. 
Narrow strip of water connecting two 
bodies of water. 

A number of things used or classed to- 
Not sour; pleasant. 


A row or rank. 

Tight; stretched; snug. 

Past tense or verb "to teach." 

A group of players or workers. 

To be prolific; full. 

An expression of time of action; drawn 
tightly; rigid. 
Plural of tents. 

A possessive pronoun. 
A particular place. 
Contraction of "they are." 

Past tense of verb "to throw." 
From end to end of. 













More than enough; also. 

OiR' and one. 
\ l)()(lv ol soldiers. 
A company ot performers or actors. 

Empty: deceitful; conceited. 


One of the \essels which convey blood from 

the arteries to the heart. 

To change. 

An adverb: extremely; identical to: the 












To walk through any substance that yields 
to the feet. 

Past tense of the verb "to weigh." 
Part of the body; garment. 
Needless destruction; useless consumption. 
Goods; merchandise. 

To impair or waste by time, usage, friction; 
carries as covering on the body. 
A road; route. 

To ascertain the weight of; reflect on care- 

Feeble: soft: imfortified. 
Se\'en days. 
A possessive pronoun. 
A contraction of "who is." 
A collection of growing trees; solid part 
of trees. 
An auxiliary verb. 




Although the 
error in spelling, 

Possessive pronoun. 
You are. 


improper division of ^vords is not technically an 
a mistake of this type makes the reading of the 

50 Basic Police Report Writing 

report difficult and leaves the impression that the word has been 
misspelled. Foll()\\- these rules in the division of words. 

Divide ^vords only bet^^•een syllables. 
reversal department temper 

Single-syllable words should never be divided. 

Wrong. weight which sei-ze 

Never separate a single letter from the rest of the word. 
Wrong: sewe-r printer p-rogram 

Avoid two-letter divisions, and never carry over t^vo letters 

Wrong: table suture eve-ry 

When a final consonant is doubled before a suffix, the addi- 
tional consonant goes with the suffix, 
running bid-ding control-ling 

^\ hen t^vo consonants come together bet^veen t^vo vo^vels, di- 
vide bet^veen the consonants. 

mil-lion struc-ture advan-tage 

It is usually possible to maintain fairly even right-hand mar- 
gins Avithout di\iding words. Avoid dividing words as much as 

Chapter V 


N Mosi i'OLic;i-: rkporiing tlic tendency is to overcapitalize. 

Capitalization is not to be used as a means of emphasis. Other 

icclini(iues are used lor that purpose. In some instances the 

thought is changed when words are capitalized. When police de- 

partDient is written in lower case it refers to the organizational 

entity within a level of government. For example: 

A large part of any city governmental budget is that of the police 

\Vhen Police Department is capitalized, the words mean that a 
specific police department is the present subject of discussion. 

A large part of the city budget is that of the Police Department. 
(In this case Police Department means, for example, the Detroit 
Police Department) . 

Two principles, (1) that each sentence begins with a capital 
letter, and (2) that every proper name and most words derived 
from a proper name begins \vith a capital letter, cover most of the 
need for capitalization. Fiuther rules are made to establish uni- 
formity in doubtful cases. 


In the Sentence 

Capitalize the first letter of the first \vord of each sentence. 
All evidence was properly marked or labeled. 

W^hen incomplete sentences are used as complete thought, 

More delay. Less efficiency. 

Xotliing to hope for. 

Direct ([notations, quotations, slogans, and mottoes that appear 
within a sentence must be capitalized, Avhether quotation marks 
are used or not. 


52 Basic Police Report ]V)iting 

The suspect said, "Give me the dough!'" 
The slogan, Best evidence, was adopted. 

Capitalize the first letter of the first word in any enumeration 
when the enumeration is presented in columns. 

Patrohiien must: 

(a) Protect the crime scene 

(b) Arrest the suspect, if possible 

(c) Interview witnesses and the victim. 

(d) Call for a special in\estigator, if needed. 

Capitalization of Proper Nouns and Adjectives 

Names of persons, places, institutions, organizations, governing 

bodies, and political parties are capitalized. 

Robert Williams was born in Arkansas. 

He attended The University of Arkansas and was a member of 
Pi Sigma Alpha. 

At present, he is living at 318 Mariposa Drive, Los Angeles, 

This is a problem for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Depart- 

The condition of his clothing indicated that he had fallen in the 
Colorado River. 

Names of races and languages are capitalized. 

He belongs to the Caucasian race. 

The witness spoke Russian, French, and German. 

Names of religious sects, words designating God, and names of 

parts of the Bible are capitalized. 

The suspect states that he believes in God, reads the New Testa- 
ment regularly, is a member of the Methodist Church, and fears 
the Ahnighty. 

Names of historic epochs and events are capitalized. 

Questioning revealed that he was in the military service during 
World War IL 

Any title of honor or respect preceding a proper name is capita- 

Captain Roe, a student of human relations, took the responsi- 
bility for contacting Dr. Doe. 

CapilnUzaliiJU mid \'iii/il)ers 53 

Capitalize a trade name. 

Parkfi Pens 

Coiuinon nouns treated as proper names are capilali/ed. An 
institution, e\eni. or any pre-eminent item may be capilali/ed il 
context or custom makes it clear that one is singled out. 

the Rock (Akaira/) 
llic First World War 

Capitalize ^vords derived Ironi proper names. The most com- 
mon oi these are adjectives. 

Knglish-spedking people 
Eisenhoioer jacket 

Words Indicating Family Relationship 

"Words indicating family relationship are capitalized if they are 

not modified by a possessive adjective or an article. 

The boy stated, "I asked Father for the key." 
He asked his father for tlie key. 

Sections of the Country 

The Avord east, west, and north, and south are capitalized when 
they refer to sections of the country. 

The manner of speech of the suspect indicated that he was troni 

the South. 

He always went sunlit for the winter. 

Names Indicating Time 

The names of the days of the Aveek, months of the year, and 
special holidays are capitalized. 

We made our first contact with the suspect on Wednesday. Jan- 
uary 6. 
He had remained out of the state since Thaukso^ixiing day. 

Titles of Books, etc. 

Every Avord in the titles of books, magazines, documents, and 
newspapers— except articles, prepositions, and conjtmctions— is 

1 lie witness liad been reading Gone xrith the Wind. 

54 Basic Police Report Writing 

Capitalization of Abbreviations 

Such abbreviations as Jr., Sr., Ph.D., R.F.D., Mr., and Mrs., are 

Although a.m. and p.m. are usually written in louver case let- 
ters, it is preferable to capitalize them in preliminary and sup- 
plementary investigation reports. 

John Jones, Jr., is the son of Dr. John Jones. 
We arrived at the scene at 9 P.M. 


Don't capitalize the first word of a sentence inserted within 
another ^vhen it is separated by parentheses or dashes. 

The men who were assigned were moved (this had been decided 
previously) to a different location. 

Don't capitalize the first word of a slogan that is grammati- 
cally dependent on ^vhat precedes. 

He passed the word along that "we must get our man." 

Don't capitalize eninnerations ^vithin a sentence. 

Patrolmen must: (I) protect the crime scene, (2) arrest the sus- 
pect, if possible, (3) interview wintesses and the victim, and (4) call 
for a special investigator, if needed. 

Don't capitalize institutions and geographical terms unless 

they are used ^vith a proper noun. 

This is a problem for the sheriff's department. 

The condition of his clothing indicated that he had fallen in the 


Don't capitalize names of the seasons of the year. 
He usually went south for the lointer. 

Don't capitalize points of the compass unless they refer to 
specific sections of the country. 

The witness indicated that the perpetrator had traveled west. 

Don't capitalize trade names used as common noims. (Many 
trade names quickly become common nouns; and, if used to 

(',(1 j>il(iliz(iti()ii (1)1(1 Siiitihcrs 55 

designate llie sort ol article ratlier than the makes, they are not 

kodak polaroid 



In literary terms police reports are categorized as technical 

writings. In this type ol Avriting numerals are used except at the 

beginning of a sentence. 

We recovered 16 typewriters valued at $1,450. 
Sixteen typewriters valued at $1J50 were recovered. 

Numbers Written As Numerals 

Quantities and measinements are always expressed as figines. 
These include ages, dates, hours with a.m. and p.m., street num- 
bers, page nimibers, simis of money, statistics, room niunbers, 
divisions of books, decimals, percentages, imit modifiers. 

35 years $35.50 

April 3 to June 11, 1959 1,346 inmates 

11:30 A.M. .75 

318 Morgan Way 35 per cent ("„) 

Room 25 5-day week, 10-foot pole 


Military Unit Names 

In the Air Force, units up to and including an air division are 
designated \vith Arabic niniierals. Names of the numbered air 
forces are spelled out, 

732d Bomb Squadron 2d Air Division 

245th Fighter Group Fifth Air Force 

348 Fighter Wing 

In the Army and Marine Corps, imits up to and including the 
division are designated with Arabic niunbers. The corps name is 
written with a Roman niuneral: /// Co) {ks. The field army nmnber 
is spelled oiU: First Army. The army group goes back to the 
designation of Arabic niunbers: 2d .Army Group. 

82nd Infantry Regiment 

7th AAA Brigade 

2(1 Infantry Dixisioii 

56 Basic Police Report Writing 

Jn the Na\y the miiiiber of a task force is written in Arabic: 
Task Force ''S. The fleet nimiber is written in full: FiftJi Fleet. 

Numbers Spelled Out 

Spell out numbers beginning a sentence. 
Four officers were assigned to cover the house. 
Forty-three officers were called for extra duty. 

Spell out nmnbers used in correction with serious and dignified 

the Thirteen Original States 
the Se\enty-Eighth Congress 

Spell out niniibers of less than 100 preceding a compound 
modifier containing a figure, 
two ^A-inch boards 
twelve 6-inch barrels 

120 14 -inch boards 

Spell out indefinite expressions or roimd numbers, 
the early thirties 

between two and three thousand hours 
a hundred hours 
one hundred-odd stolen articles 

Spell out fractions standing alone, 
one-half inch 
five one-thousandths 

Chapter VI 

JDrevitv is stressed in most police reporting, and tliis is good 
polity. Filing space must be c(Miserved; time and energies of those 
who read and write reports should not be ^\'asted. Reports should 
be as brief as possible so long as they convey the idea intended by 
the writer, Thus, in an effort to be brief as well as to conserve 
space and energies, some abbreviations are premitted. 

However, it is imperative that abbreviations must not be used 
to the extent that clarity is sacrificed. Some officers seem to have a 
driving compulsion to use abbreviations; their reports are not 
comprehensible. Many police agencies adopt their own system; 
others tolerate any and all abbreviations used by each individual 
writer. There is danger in either of these practices, because any 
person who reads reports made in these departments may ex- 
perience difficulty in interpretation. Those abbreviations permit- 
ted should be only those that enjoy wide acceptance. 

Furthermore, abbreviations should be avoided as much as pos- 
sible in narrative sections of preliminary and supplementary inves- 
tigation reports. Acceptable abbreviations may be used more 
freely in the routine completion of the many other required forms 
and in the reporting of incidents, arrests, and the identification of 
criminals. Any acceptable abbreviation is appropriate in the re- 
porting of tabulated information, footnotes, cross-referencing, and 
similar materials. 

Where abbreviations are permissible, the use of accepted ones 
will not result in confusion. The dictionary is the last resort for 
a comprehensive list of accepted abbreviations. For example. Web- 
ster's New Collegiate Dictionary gives thousands of them. The most 
common problem which you will encounter in report ^vriting are 
discussed in the rules \vhi( h follow. 


58 Basic Police Report Writing 


Commonly used terms ot report such as Mr., Mrs., Messrs., Jr., 
and Sr. are abbreviated. 

Such abbreviations as Dr., Rev., Hon., Gov., and Gen. are 
properly used before full names of persons but not before sur- 
names only. 

Prof. Roy G. Hillman not Prof. Hillman 

Do not abbreviate Christian (given) names except in situa- 
tions where the name has appeared earlier in the report. In such 
cases care should be exercised in ^vriting the accepted abbrevia- 
tion of the name. 

Wm., EdiLK, fas., Tlios.. etc. 

Titles and degrees following a proper name are abbreviated. 
The abbreviations are capitalized. 
Mr. John Henry Sellman. M.A. 

With the exception of the use of v. or vs. for versus, titles of 
writings should never be abbreviated. 
State V. Smith 

The ^vord, company, shoidd not be abbreviated iniless used as 
part of a proper name. 

We did not receive a complaint from the company. 
We received a complaint from the R. C. Richardsons Co. 

The words victim and suspect, are used so frequently in in- 
vestigation reports that it is permissible to abbreviate them after 
the words have been spelled out for the first time. Capitalize the 
abbreviations when you use them. 

V. equals victim 
S. equals suspect 


Dates and places are higiy significant in police reports, espe- 
cially investigation reports. Be very careful when you use them. 

Names of all the days of the week and several months of the 
year may be abbreviated. 

Abbrcx'iatiotis 59 

Moil., 'iucs., ]V('(l.,Tliurs., Fri., Sat., Sun. 
Jan., Feb., Mar., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. 
Note: Never abbreviate April. May. June, and July. 

Locations are extremely iinportanl in police reports, and the 
possibilities of error are too great wlicn they are abbreviated. Do 
not abbreviate the names of cities and states unless you are con- 
fronted with such words as fort, mount, point and port as a part 
of the name. 

Pt. Huion St. Louis Ft. Worth 

The letters, U.S.A., may be used as abbreviation of the United 
States of America. 

The words avenue, boulevard, street, etc., may be properly 
abbreviated when used as part of a proper name. 

Ave., Blvd., PL, St. 

He lives at 3218 Carol St. 

The forms d, ud, rd, st, and th may be used after date and place 
numbers in all police reports. 

We met the suspect on the 20th of April. 

Note: A period is not used after this type of abbreviation. 

The points of the compass are abbreviated. Capitals and a period 
are used. 

A'., E., S., W., \.E., S.E., X.W., S.W., 

Abbreviations should be used to indicate time of day. The 
letter or letters of the abbreviation should be capitalized. The ab- 
brevation is follow^ed by a period. 

12 N. (Noon), 10 A.M., 3:20 P.M., 12 P.M. or 12 M. (Midnight) 
(P.M. etc.) 


If the word for which the abbreviation stands is capitalized, 
the abbreviation must be capitalized. 

Note: The time element is so important in police reports that 
A.M., P.M., N., and M. should be capitalized. \\' ith few exceptions, 
abbreviations should be follo^ved by periods. 
Dr. Ave. N.E. 

60 Basic Police Report ]Vriti?ig 

K tlie word lor which the ahlH'eviation stands is hyphenated, 
the abbrex'iation should be hyphenated. 

ft. -lb. foot-pound 

Certain short words, most of them derived from Latin, are not 
abbreviations; thus, they are not followed by a period. 

I'ia, ad, circa, et, [mis, in re, par, per cent, pro, re, versus 

The letters of radio and television stations are written in capi- 
tals, but no period follo^vs. 

Names of high^vays, both state and national, may be abbre- 
viated. Each of these abbreviations should be folloAved by a period. 
U.S. 80 S. Hu'y. 99 


Most abbre\iations from their plurals by adding s to tlie sin- 
gular; others form their plurals by doubling the initial letter used 
as the singular number abbreviation. 

art., arts., (article, articles) 

bk., bks., (book, books) 

ch.,chs., (chapter, chapters) 

fig.,figs., (figure, figures) 

1., II., (line, lines) 

no., nos., (number, numbers) 

p., pp., (page, pages) 

par., pars., (paragraph, paragraphs) 

pi., pis., (plate, plates) 

pt., pts., (part, parts) 

sec, sees., (section, sections) 

vol., vols., (volume, vohnnes) 

Other Latin abbreviations have no plural forms, 
e.g. (exempli gratia) for example 
i.e. (id est) that is 

ib., ibid, (ibidem) the same, in the same place, from the same 

i.q. (idenx quid) the same as 
in loc. (in loco) in its place 
op. cit (opere citate) in the work cited or mentioned 




111 husiness and coniinen ial writing, abbreviations num])cr 
in the thousands, rhcsc are permissible in police reports. Many 
ol ihcni may be found in John B. Opdycke's book, Get It Right. 
As stated earlier, a most comprehensixe list is available in Web- 
ster's XeiL' Collegiate Dictionary. 

The following are a few general abbreviations acceptable in 
all types of police reports: 

art., article 

c.o.d., cash on delivery 

f.o.b., free on board 

pkg., package 

ry., railway 

in., inch 
ft., foot 
yd., yard 
mi., mile (s) 

gr., grain 
dr., dram 
oz., ounce 

cwt., hundredweight 
ton (s) (should not be ab- 

lit., height 
wt., weight 
$ dollar 
@ at 
(f, cent 

% per cent (spell out in tech- 
nical and public reports) 

Area and Volume 
sq. in., square inch 
cu. in., cubic inch 
sq. in., spuare inch 

gill (s) (should not be abbreviated) 
pt.. pint 
{|t., quart 
gal., gallon 
pk., peck 
bu., bushel 
bbl., barrel 

Note: Most of the abbreviations above are followed by a period. 
Some weights and measures abbreviations are not followed by a 

kg kilogram 
hg hectogram 
dkg dekagram 
g gram 
dg decigram 
eg centigram 
mc milliaram 

kl kiloliter 
hi hectoliter 
dkl dekaliter 
1 liter 
dl deciliter 
cl centiliter 
ml milliliter 

Chapter VII 


ORDS ARE COMBINED INTO A Sentence, which is the basic unit 
tor communicating an idea. A sentence may mean something to 
you, but unless it communicates the same meaning to your reader, 
it is not good. If you \vrite a careless sentence, you make work for 
your reader. In tiiis kind of sentence you may hide the meaning 
in faulty construction and force him to backtrack to get your ideas. 
Or you may annoy him because you fail to make an idea clear. 


It was the fashion many years ago to \vrite sentences running 
well over a hundred Avords. Today educators clearly shou^ that 
writing can be more easily read and remembered if sentences are 
short. To write clearly, avoid using involved sentences. Why ask 
your reader to waste mental effort trying to determine what you 
are trying to say in long, wordy sentences. Tell him the facts in 
short, brisk, sentences. 

On the other hand, avoid the monotonous style of one short 
sentence after another. Try to vary sentence length and construc- 
tion. After several short sentences, write a long one. In general, 
however, keep the average sentence to about t^venty words. 


What can go ^vrong \vith your sentences? Why do they lack 
clarity? The following examples illustrate some common diffi- 
culties (^vords in italics sho^v ^veak points in the sentences) : 

Lack of Parallelism in Construction 

Express parallel ideas in words with the same granunatical 

Awkward: Briefly, the functions of the executive officer are 

to advise the cliief, trasmit his instructions, and 
Ihe supervision of the execution of his decisions. 


Sentence SI) ik line fi3 

Iinprovi-d: liiitllv. llic fuiuiioiis ol the- c\c( iili\f olhccr arc- 

to advise the chief, transmit his instructions, and 
supervise the execution of his decisions. 

Dangling Modifiers 

All inodilyiiig words and j:)lnases shoidd be placed where they 
can't cause contusion. A dangling niodilier refers to a word which 
it can't sensibly modify. 

Confusing: Approacliing llie clly jroin llie south side, the 

capitol building can be seen. 
Improved: A person approaching the city from the south side 

can easily see the capitol building. 
Confusing: In searching a prisoner, the wall method shoidd 

l)e used. 
Improved: In searching a prisoner, use the wall method. 

Squinting Modifiers 

Avoid using "squinting modifiers"— modifiers that refer to 
either of two parts of a sentence. 

Confusing: Hidden Valley is the place where the Blankville 

Police Department said early today the suspect 

had fled. 

Improved: Early today the Blankville Police Department 

said that the suspect had fled to Hidden Valley. 

Use of Passive Voice 

For direct statement of an idea, make the subject of your sen- 
tence perform the action (active voice) ; do not let the subject be 
acted upon (passive voice) . 

Ineffective: Before he attempts to form a directive, an ap- 

praisal of the situation 7?i ust be made by the 
Improved: Before the chief attempts to form a directive, he 

must make an appraisal of the situation. 

The ineffective sentence also shows a change of subject— from 
"he" to "appraisal of the situation." The improved sentence keeps 
the same subject— "chief" and "he." 

Shift From Passive to Active Voice 

Use the active voice in all clauses of a sentence, rather than 
shift from passive to active. 

64 Basic Police Report ]V)itin<^ 

Ineffective: In 1958, the personnel ol the police department 

was increased by fifty men. and lour lieutenants 
supplanted the sergeants. 

hn proved: In 1958, the police department increased its per- 

sonnel by fifty men, and four lieiUenants sup- 
planted the sergeants. 

Indirect Phrasing 

Express yotir idea directly instead ot indirectly. Frequent use 
of there is and there are weakens emphasis. 

Ineffective: There are four types of control ^sith which each 

supervisor should be familiar. 

Iin proved: Each super\isor should know four types of con- 


Frequent use of it is . . . indicates an indirect approach. The 
direct approach is clear and more forceful. 
Trite: It is believed that . . . 

It is assumed that . . . 

It is recommended that . . . 

It is directed that ... 
Improved: We believe that . . . 

We assume that . . . 

We recommend that ... 

We want . . . 

Lack of Emphasis 

Make the structure of a sentence sho^v ^^•hat is important and 
^vhat is not. Subordinate less important elements. 

Ineffective: A special enforcement squad can, and frequently 

does, operate independently, but it normally oper- 
ates as part of the division. 
Improved: Normally operating as a part of the division, a 

special enforcement squad can, and often does, 
operate independently. 

Lack of Coherence 

A sentence has coherence when ideas fit together in a pattern 
that is easy to understand. The idea to be emphasized shoidd come 
either first or last in the sentence— not in the middle. 

Ineffective: In order to enable the will of the diief to be 

luiderstood unmistakably, a standard sequence. . . 

Sentence Stnutioe 65 

for (ill gencnil ordos is prcscribccl to insure that 
all essential instructions are covered. 
Improved: The chief uses a standard sequence in all general 

orders so that he is certain to include all essen- 
tial instructions and to ni.ikc hiniscll lullv under- 


Rethink all ol yotii sentences: yon may need to rewrite some 
of them because the meaning is not clear. 

Confusing: We recommend that a supervisors' school be es- 

tablished in order that an indicated low super- 
visor experience may be fortified. (A school to 
insure poor supervisory experience is novel!) 

Improved: We recommend that a supervisors' school be es- 

tablished to improve supervision. 

Confusing: At the completion of this recruit training a report 

will be submitted to the chief estimating the effect 
and value of same. (\ report estimating the value 
of the training is a good idea: a report estimating 
the value of the chief may not!) 

Improved: At the completion of this recruit training a report 

on the new methods of instruction will be submit- 
ted to the chief. 


Sentences can be clear, yet not effective; that is, parts of a sen- 
tence arranged one way seem to be more pleasing to the reader 
than any other arrangement. Training and experience ^vill soon 
lead you to recognize and select one sentence over another, even 
though they both concern the same idea. Read the folloAving ex- 
amples. Which sentence in each group did you select? 

1. (a) The text of a radio message will be given with as few 
words as possible, maintaining clarity, without making 
the message vague or ambiguous. 

(b) With as few words as possible, maintaining clarity, with- 
out making the message vague or ambiguous, the text 
of the radio message will be given. 

(c) The text of a radio message will be as brief as possible 
and clear, without making it \ague or ambiguous. 

(d) The text of a radio message will be clear and as brief as 
possible: at the same time it should not be vague or 

66 Basic Police Report ]Vritiug 

2. (a) These violations recur again and again. 

(b) These violations recur. 

(c) These violations are such as to be recurring in nature. 

(d) These violations happen again and again. 

3. (a) Should patrolmen persist in making these errors, gross 

offenders should be disciplined. 

(b) Patrolmen who continue to make these errors should 
be disciplined. 

(c) If gross offenders among patrolmen who persist in these 
errors continue to do so, they should be disciplined. 

(d) Discipline all patrolmen who make these errors. 

4. (a) The instructor's being experienced in tactics adds interest 

to his course. 

(b) The instructor is experienced in tactics which adds in- 
terest to his course. 

(c) The instructor's experience in tactics adds interest to 
his course. 

(d) The fact that the instructor is experienced in tactics adds 
interest to his course. 

Chapter VIII 


.K(,ARDLESS OF THE TYPE OF poHce vepoit, piiiictuation is im- 
portant. But there are not, nor should there be, any special rules 
regarding punctuation in police reports. The purpose of punctua- 
tion is to help yoin- reader, and your aim should be to make the 
report as clear as possible to him. It is the customary little marks, 
called punctuation, that do determine whether a sentence is clear 
or has a doubtful meaning. 

In fact, your punctuation serves t^vo principal purposes in a 
report: (1) it separates the written matter into sentences and sub- 
di\ ides the sentences into ^vord groups, and (2) it lets your reader 
know that you have presented the writing for his convenience. 
Even when punctuation is not an absolute necessity, to prevent 
misunderstanding, you shotdd insert punctuation to make the 
meaning clear at a glance. 

In spite of the fact that the rules of punctuation are fairly well 
defined and the next several pages are devoted to them, you should 
not feel inhibited because of them. People differ in matters of 
judgment and intention. A writer often has a considerable leeway 
in making a choice of the punctuation which he will use. However, 
you must be sure of three things: (I) that the punctuation you 
use enables you to convey your intentions, (2) that your inten- 
tions are made absolutely clear to the reader, and (3) that you 
know how to use the pinictuation marks which you use. 

It is true that many police officers harboin- erroneous concep- 
tions regarding the value of punctuation in their reports. They 
often reason that brevity is so important that punctuation should 
be eliminated as much as possible. Although brevity is important, 
clarity cannot be sacrificed in the interest of the former. Others 
may think, since they do not know how to pinictuate, that a secre- 
tary or some person in the records division will insert the necessary 


68 Basic Police Report Writiiiii^ 

puiK tuation. On the other liancl, no person understands yoia- in- 
tentions as well as you do; no one else can be trusted to con\ey 
yoia- intended meaning. E\en the rough draft of your report 
should be punctuated as correctly as possible without interfering 
with your trend of thought. Obvious errors in punctuation should 
never appear in your finished product. 

The officer ^vho does not know how to punctuate his report 
shoidd learn. Yet, to those who lack background this is no easy 
task. They must not only learn \vhat to do but must practice it 
luitil it becomes a matter of hal)it. A knowledge of grammar is 
necessary to proper punctuation. Begin by studying one or se\'eral 
grannnar books. Progress from grammar to the rules of pimctua- 
tion as presented in this manual; study and refer to the rides con- 
stantly. Study the appendix material on "Elements of Grammar" 
^vhen you need an immediate giude. Practice by constructing sen- 
tences of your own and pinictuating them according to the rules. 
Proofread every piece of material before you submit it. 

Remember this. A pinictuation mark shoidd be used as an aid 
to clear understanding. When it does not render the meaning 
more plain or bring out some point of definite advantage, a good 
rule to follo^v is, Do not punctuate. 

In the folloAving paragraphs the rules have been simplified. 
The illustrations should help you to learn them. 


Use a period at the end of a declarati\e or an imperati\e sen- 

We arri\ed after the suspect had left the scene. 
Will you please make our report. (Polite request) 

Use a period after an abbre\ iation. 

The suspect entered the store at approximately 9 P.M. 
S. #1 (suspect 1) entered liis home through the rear exit. 

Use a period after initials. 

Roy L. White was listed in the report as the \ictim. 
R. M. Smith. Jr.. arrived at 9 P.M. 


Use a question mark after a question or after that part of a 
sentence \\hich asks a question. 

PU)U lUdllOll *>■' 

Arc \<)U Lioiiii*? 

Who? What:- Wlun? Wlurc? How? Why? 

"Who ill tliis .urouj) knows this man?" the officer asked. 


Use an exclaniaiion mark alter an expression ol surprise or 
strong emotion. 

What a case this is! 
Help! Police! 
Stop! Thief! 


Use a connna helore coordinatino conjinictions and. hit I, or, 
nor, for wliich join two independent clauses. (An independent 
clause is a group ot words which contain a subject and a verb and 
represent a complete thought.) 

The suspect drove his own car. and his victim went with him. 

Certain vital evidence was discovered, but we obtained a search 

warrant before we got it. 

We must strike first, or later we will be sorry. 

I believe the witness, for he has always told us the truth. 

Use coinmas to set off appositives. (An appositi\e is a \\ord or 
phrase which immediately follo^vs a noun or pronoun and denotes 
the same person, place, or thing.) 

Our witness, the brother of the x'irtiin. arrived early at court. 

The chase ended in Bakersfield, an oil center in California. 

Note: Appositives which are closely related are not set off by 


This is my co-worker Tom Hamilton. 
I myself will write the report. 

Vse commas to set off ^vords or phrases that are used paran- 
thetically or independently. 

He was, lue believed, a person to be watched. 
The other plan, however, is less dangerous. 
Yes, I think you are right. 
First, I shall write my report. 
Hoxvever, he is wrong. 

Use a comma to separate two or more coordinate (equal) ad 
jectives \\hich modify the same noun. 

The crime scene was a large, gloomy room. 

70 Basic Police Report Writing 

Note: If the adjectives are closely related or connected by and, 
the ( omnia is omitted. 

The crime scene was a large and gloomy room. 
The victim Avore a new sport coat, (closely related) 

Use a comma alter an adverbial clause or an absolute phrase 
at the beginning of a sentence. It also is usually used after an in- 
troductory participial phrase. (See Appendix A for explanation of 
these terms.) 

Haxiiug jjiillcd tlie boat upon the bank, the officers started their 

search on loot through the forest, (participial phrase) 

When xee opened the door, the suspect dashed from the room. 

(adverbial clause) 

Although xve arrived early, the suspect had made his contact. 

(adverbial clause) 

His car having been taken from him, the victim walked five miles 

to the nearest town, (participial phrase) 

Use commas to separate words, phrases, or clatises in series. 
The suspect's clothing contained red, white, and black fibers. 
(Note that a comma may not be used before the and) 
The laboratory technician found fingerprints on the table, under 
the chairs, and on the ivindow sills. 

We did not know when he would arrive, lohat he would say. 
The victim was tall, dark, and handsome. 

Use commas to set off expressions like "he said" from direct 

The suspect said, "Give me the dough!" 
"I'll be there," he said, "at two o'clock." 
"I'll be back tomorrow," he replied. 

Use commas to set off nouns in direct address. 
"Give me the money, 'sucker.' 
"This, fellows, is the answer." 

Use commas to set off non-restrictive clauses and phrases. (A 
non-restrictive clause or phrase does not limit or change the mean- 
ing of the sentence, btit gives additional information.) 

Mr. Ray Coleman, ichom we had contacted earlier, gave us the 

desired information. 

We worked at the ball game, altliough zee had intended to ivork 

on the case. 

Officer Simon, fearing that he -would arrive too late, used his red 

light and siren. 

Puu( tmition ' ' 

I'se a (omnia alter a siaicnicnt tollowcd by a short (jucsiion 

(Icpc'iuk'iU upon it. 

\in\ will i;o to tlu' j)i)li(r Malion with us. -a'on't you. 

l^e a conniia to indicate tlie omi.s.sion of a word or words 
which are necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence. 

Ihc company had a factory in Los Angeles: another, in New 
York: and a third, in .\tlanta. 

I'se a connna to a\oid contusion in reading. 

After photoi^raphin.-;. the laboratory technician dusted lor finger- 

Use commas to set off transposed or inserted modifiers. 
.\n old house, bleak and dingy, stood alone on the hill, 
riie suspect, by arguing forcefully, won his point. 

Use commas to set off contrasting expressions. 
The victim, not the suspect, had written the note. 
The suspect, even more than his associates, had wanted to confess. 

Use commas to set off each item after the first in an address or 


The report indicated that he lived at 923 Ninth Street, Blank- 
ville, California. 
Sacramento 18. California 
June 19. 1939. 

Use a comma after mild interjections. 

The suspect had stated, "Well, what do you think?" 

Use a comma before Sr., Jr., titles following a name, l^etween a 
title and the name of an organization, and between smaller and 
larger geographical units. 

John Smith. Jr. 

L. L. JoiKv Ph.D. 

Chid. l)i\iMon of Administration 

C^orrecti;)n\ ille. Iowa. I'niied States 

In ntnnbers, a connna stands after each group of three digits, 
coiniting from the right. 

The expenditures of the force in 1954 were S1.823,158..")(). 
The p()|)uhition of the city is 130.325. 

Note: Write insurance police numbers, serial inimbers, street 
numbers and order ntnnbers as follows: 

72 B(Lsic Police Report Writitig 

The case number is 34L126. 

The insurance policy found in the safe contained the number, 


Mis address is 6000 Morton Way. 


Use a semicolon bet^veen t^vo independent clauses of a com- 
pound sentence when the conjunction is omitted. 

^Ve arrived at the scene at 9 A.M; we contacted the victim. 

Use a semicolon before such conjunctive adverbs as the fol- 
loNving words when they join independent clauses: 

so thus moreover accordingly 

then therefore furthermore consequently 

yet however hence nevertheless 

still besides otherwise finallv 

I did not write the report; consequently, I did not complete the 


Police reports are required; tliiis, they are necessary. 

The semicolon is usually used before a coordinating conjimc- 
tion which connects the independent clauses of a compound sen- 
tence containing internal punctuation. 

The witness, who was with us, did not want to go to police head- 
quarters; but I persuaded her to go. 

The semicolon is usually used between the items in a series 
if there are commas within the items. 

The following items were selected; scissors, for cutting; strong 
cord, for binding; and heavy wrapping paper, for packaging. 


Use a colon to introduce a list or a summarizing word, phrase, 
or clause. 

The three common methods used in the development of finger- 
prints are listed in the order ol tlicir importance; powcter. iodine, 
and silver nitrate. 
He had only one idea: escape. 

When he entered the house, he had only one motive; that he 
might deprive the oiuner of her jeweby. 

Results were as follows; Ijctter moral, less icork. increased salaries, 
and improved public relations. 

PuiK tiKilion 73 

Vse a colon with a ([notation when say or a substitute lor say 
has been omitted. 

I lu' (aplaiii tiiiiud: "Wlio ^avc the order?" 

Use a colon to introduce a lon<^ or formal ([notation. 

Mr. Walter R. Scott has the following to say ai)out the redcvehjp- 
meiit oi iodine (le\ eloped latent fingerprints with powder: 
.Mthough it can be done, it is not advisable to attempt to inten- 
sify or redevelop iodine-developed images with [iowder for several 
reasons: e. g.. if an impression on paper is fresh . . . 

Use a colon in expressing time to separate honrs and minutes. 
The report was made Wednesday, October 31, 1959, at 4:15 P.M. 


Use quotation marks to set off the exact words spoken or writ^ 
ten by another person. 

The snspect said, "Get your hands in the air." 
"I will go," the arrestee said, "if you insist." 

Caution: Do not use quotation marks to set oft indirect quo- 

He said that he would go. 
Did he say that he would go? 

Use single quotation marks to set oft quotations -within quota- 

He asked, "Who wrote 'Practical Fingerprinting?" 

Use quotation inarks or underscorings to indicate titles of 
ne^vspaper and magazine articles, etc. 

The witness stated that he was reading "Gone with the \Vind." 
He gets his stock quotations from The Xeu' York Times. 

Also tise quotation marks or underscorings to call attention to 
particular words. 

In questioning the suspect, we noticed that he used too many 

"and's" in his talk. 

The iL'liy is the moti\e of the crime. 

\Vhen two or more jDaragraj^hs are quoted, quotation marks 
are used at the beginning ol each j3aragra[oh and at the end of the 
last |jaragra[3h. 

".Much has been said about .... (The paragraph follows.) 

74 Basic Police Report Writing 

"The result c;iii Ijc accomplislu'd .... (The next paragraph fol- 
lows.) " 

Use quotation marks to enclose slogans and mottoes. 

He had a "do or die" attitude. 

Use quotation marks to enclose misnomers, slang expressions, 
or ordinary words used in an arbitrary way. 
He gave the gun to his "mouthpiece." 
Slie has a reputation as a "chippy." 

When other piuictiiation is needed in connection ^vith quota- 
tion marks, adhere to the follow ing rides: (1) a comma or a period 
is ahvays placed within quotation marks, and (2) other punctua- 
tion marks are placed within quotation marks only if they are a 
part of the quotation. 

He asked, "Shall we search the house?" 

Did he say, "The area will be searched?" 


Use a dash to separate sudden interriq^tions from the main 

He told me— oh, I can't remenber what he said. 

Rod Smith— don't you remember him— we arrested him on another 


Use a dash in place of a colon after a question mark or an ex- 
clamation point. 

How can this be explained?— the suspect did not return to the 

Use dashes to set off appositives containing items separated by 
conmias and to set off simnnarizing expressions and afterthoughts. 
iMany qualities— honesty, tact, initiative— are necessary to a good 
investigator. ( (appositive) 

Honesty, tact initiati\e— all of these characteristics are necessary 
to a good investigator, (smnmari/ing expression) 
John Jones is in jail again— nothing new for John, (afterthought) 

You may abbreviate a date by using dashes. 
1-11-59 or 1/11/59 


Use the apostrophe to sho\v possession, 
riie \i(tim's glasses were in his pocket. 

Finn l\i(iti<j)i '^ 

Sinoular and plural nouns not ending in s lorni the possessive 
by adding 's. Singular and plural noinis ending in s, add the apostro- 
phe only. 

All llie Indies' dresses were (olkcted us e\i(Uiue. 

Proper nouns ot one syllable ending in s usually form the pos- 
sessix e by adding the apostrophe and ,s. When you use proper nouns 
ot more than one syllable, add the apostrophe only. 

|()hn's clothes were on the bed. 

Mr. \\'illi:ims' car was impounded. 

In joint ownership or in compound words the apostrophe or 
the apostrophe and s is added to the last word only. 

\\c arri\ed at Hendrix-Whalen's department store at 9 P.M. 
He stated that it was his son-in-Iaic's property. 

Caution: The apostrophe is never used with the possessive pro- 
nouns, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs. 

Use the apostrophe to indicate the omission of a letter or let- 
ters in contractions. (A contraction is the combination of two 
xvords to form only one.) 
//',s a warm day. 
He -wnuldn'l confess. 
Don't omit necessary punctuation. 

Use the apostrophe and s to form the plural of letters, figures, 
symbols, and Avords used in a special sense. 

In the statement, the a's and the o's were written much alike. 
In the conversation, he used too many and's. 


You may use parentheses to enclose suplementary or explana- 
tory material. 

The number of accidents (see Chart 15) has increased. 
The gold Elgin watch ('Item #3) was recovered. 

A comma, if one is necessary, comes after the second paren- 
thesis, not before the first. If the parenthetical element itself is a 
sentence, the period is omitted; a (juestion mark or exclamation 
point is retained. 

.\s the fugitive opened fire (it was a .45 caliber automatic) . all 

movement ceased. 

.\s the fugitive opened fire (was it a .45 caliber automatic?) . all 

mo\ement ceased. 

76 Basic Police Report Writing 

Use parentheses when numerals are placed in formal enumera- 
tion within a sentence. 

The functions of the special investigator are: (1) to locate the 
physical evidence, (2) to prevent contamination, (3) to collect 
the evidence, (4) to mark or label with adequate identifying in- 
formation, and (5) to place it in proper containers for transpor- 
tation to the laboratory. 

Note that the conniia which indicates end of an item in the series 
precedes the parentheses and that the numeral follo\vs the coordi- 
nating conjunction. 


Use brackets to enclose corrections, interpolations, and sup- 
plied omissions added to a cpiotation by a person quoting. 

"Fingerprints developed in iodine vapors are temporary in nature 
[when exposed to air]; however, they dissipate slowly." 


The hyphen is usually used with two or more words forming 
a compound adjective preceding a noun. 
The victim wore a tailor-made suit. 

Use a hyphen with compoimd numbers from twenty-one 
through ninety-nine. 

We asked the witness thirty-five well-directed questions. 

l^se a hyphen to indicate the division of a word in syllables at 
the end of a line ^vhen the remainder of the word is carried to the 
next line. 

Additional information was not availaijle, l)ut the remain- 
der of the e\idence was delivered to the property clerk. 


In typed material show italics by underlining. 

Use italics to distinguish letters, words, or phrases from the 
rest of tiie sentence so that the thought can be quickly compre- 

The comma is used to separate words, phrases, or clauses in series 
when they are not connected by and. 

I'mu iiintio)! 77 

Use italics to iiulicaic l()i(.i,t;ii words appcaiin;:; in Kii.^lish text, 
unless the words have been adopted into the English language. 

I he Misprc I was (oiisidcrcd [x'rsonti non <^yal(i. 


Show omission ot material by use of a row of asterisks before a 
quotation when a large part of it has been omitted. 

A series of three periods (four Avhen the preceding sentence 
has been brought to a close) indicate omission within cpioted 
material. The omission is usually a word or phrase, but it may con- 
sist of several sentences. It may come at the end of a sentence or in 

the middle of it. 

"iMeif words will not constitute an arrest, while on the other hand 
no actual physical touching is essential .... there can be no ar- 
rest without either touching or submission." 

Chapter IX 


LTHOUGH PARAGRAPHING PRESENTS iio real problems in the 
many established forms in police reporting, it is a problem in 
narrative selections of preliminary and suppleinentary investiga- 
tion reports. In these reports sentences are combined into para- 
graphs. Paraghaphs set the pattern of organization for most of 
the report. If paragraphs are well organized and follow each other 
logically, you present an orderly development of tlionght, and your 
report can be easily read and appreciated. The follo^ving sugges- 
tions should prove helpfid in your paragraph construction. 


Long paragraphs, like long sentences, involve the reader in un- 
necessary difficulties. A paragraph is a grouping of sentences re- 
lated to a single idea. Long paragraphs force your reader to hold 
many relationships in his mind until he gets to the end. If you 
break an idea into smaller units or paragraphs, yoiu' reader can 
move easily from one element to the next ^vithout undue effort. 
Try to hold your paragraphs to 100 words or less. A page of solid 
print looks formidable. Give the reader of yotu' report more white 


At the same time, there is ahvays the danger that you ^vill be 
brief but obscine. Common sense should tell you that the number 
of words in your paragraph is not so important as the clearness of 
the ideas you present. Your paragraphs should not read like tele- 


Furthermore, experience has taught us that there is a limit to 
the period of attention that a reader can gi\e to a report. \Vhen 


Paragraph Const) ik lion /•' 

this period is c)\ei. his mind betonics tiled, and a dear nnderstand- 
ing ol w hat he is reading stops. This means that yon must give liim 
rest periods. The paragrai)h is the prin( ipal means by which this is 
done. The difTienlty of the written material will control, to a great 
degree, the frequency of these periods. Some subjects must be 
handled in snraller portions than others. When you rewrite your 
report, try lo determine how nuK h your reader will be able to 
absorb in one period of attention. Remember that your reader 
will need periods for rest. 


But after the rest, you have the responsibility of recapturing 
his attention and focusing it upon the next topic of discussion. 
Your principal tool is a topic sentence. The new topic may be put 
for\vard immediately in the next paragraph, it may be stated and 
later repeated for emphasis, it may be delayed for a few sentences, 
or left until the end of the paragraph. In any case, your reader 
should be made to feel that he is moving safely in some known 


Wlien you have your reader's attention focused on the topic 
of discussion, you should hold on to it— hold on until you have said 
what you want to say. Although it is admitted that this is in part 
a human thing which involves talent or natural ability, techniques 
are available that have been found useful in the arrangement of 
paragraphs. The most important of these deals with the order in 
which the sentences are arranged in the paragTaph and with the 
use of link ^vords and phrases. 

The most common pattern of arrangement of sentences in a 
paragraph in basic police reports is the narrative or time order. 
You simply follow a series of e\'ents in the order in which they 

(1) 9:49 P.M., 2-8-59, Reporting officers received a radio call re- 
porting a grand theft at Room 109, Blankville Inn. 

(2) 9:55 P.M., 2-8-59, Reporting officers talked with the victim, 
Mr. Everett L. Rex, of Route 1, Tecumseh, Kansas, at the Blank- 
ville Inn, Room 109, Mr. Rex stated that he is a truck driver for 

so Basic Police Report Wrilino 

Ooss Country Van Lines of Sioux City, Iowa (agent lor Helm Van 
Lines) , and is staying over night at the Gold City Motel, 19.")1 West 
8th Avenue. 

(3) The victim related that at ai)))roxiniately 5:30 P.M.. 2-8-59, he 
was served by a young blond bartender (female) at Ralph's Club, 
1842— 7th Avenue, Blankville, and that during a conversation with 
her he learned that she would be otf duty at 6:00 P.M. and agreed 
to meet him at the Surf Club, 1141 — 16th Avenue, Blanksville. He 
further alleged that it was agreed that they would go out to dinner 
and she would stay the night with him at a motel for $25. 

(4) Mr. Rex further stated that he inet the suspect as agreed at 
the Surf Club at approximately 6:30 P.M., 2-8-59. Victim alleges 
that they went from the Surf Club to the Blankville Inn in an Ace 
cab, which was allegedly driven by a person by the name of 
"George." He stated that they had dinner in the Blankville Inn at 
approximately 7:00 P.M. and registered for a room (Room 109) 
at Blankville Inn at approximately 9:30 P.M. this date. 

(5) Victim further asserted that upon returning from the shower 
at approximately 9:40 P.M., the blond, a wrist watch, and $260 
were missing. He stated that the money (13 $20 bills) had been re- 
moved from his wallet and the wallet returned to his trouser 

(6) The complainant described the suspect as: WFA; 23 years, 
blond hair, 5'7", 131 pounds, wearing a dark coat and white dress 
with sequins. Victim asserts that suspect went by the name of 

The order of yotir ideas is not the only ^vay to hold your 
reader's attention. Use simple and effective link ^vords and phrases 
to look back at the preceding sentence or forward to the one com- 
ing. These words and phrases are so iiseftil in the linking of sen- 
tences together that Santmyers in his book, Practical Report Writ- 
ing, presents a long list of them. They are rearranged here in al- 
phabetical order for your use as a later reference. 


accordingly besides equally so 

after by and large especially 

again hy the way F 

although C fii'^t 

another certainly finally 

at any rate consequently lor example 

at least conversely for instance 

F(iy(ii!^)(il)li (.oust) lit lion 


lor this purpose 







in fact 

in particular 

ill spile ot 

in this way 

in truth 







of course 

on the contrary 

on the other liaiul 






the one 

iIk' other 




to this end 



truth to tell 


with this in view 



You also should use these same Avords and phrases, along with 
many others, to move smootlily from one paragraph to another. 
Transition Avords may be used to show the position of a paragraph 
in a series, as backward reference, or as forward reference. When 
you want to be absolutely sure of your transition, you may use 
entire clauses or sentences. 


AVhen your report is long and the subject matter is complex, 
yoti have still another problem. You must guide, direct, and re- 
assure your reader. If you don't, he may get lost in the material. 
So, when you are sure you need them, use entire paragraphs to tie 
the various sections of your report together. For con\enience of 
discussion, let us say that those used in this manner are either 
introductory, transition, or siumnary paragraphs. 

Chapter X 


.FTER YOU WORK FOR A WHILE ^vith techniques of clear report 
writing, you begin to think more clearly. Your thinking becomes 
more concrete. Ho^vever, it is unlikely that you will ever turn out 
your best Avork in a first draft. A major step in effective report 
writing will always be careful editing. 

Writing is an art and, as \vith all arts, skill in it comes only 
with practice. Even the more experienced \\Titers find that from 
original writing to final copy ^vriting is a time-consuming process. 
It is a process of rewriting, deleting, inserting, and recopying, with 
progressively more emphasis on rethinking to achieve economy of 
expression. E\en the experienced report ^vriter finds the task of 
editino his own work a difficult one. It is natural for the writer to 
read into his own writing ^vhat he intended to say rather than 
Av'hat he actually said. 

The key technique in learning to write clearly is learning to 
re^vrite. Re^vrite anything that isn't clear. This chapter suggests 
hoAv to go about editing and re^vriting. 


When you are editing your o^vn report, you should do your 
best to switch your vie\vpoint to that of the reader. A good Avay 
to accomplish this is to lay your report aside for a day or t^vo be- 
fore editing it. But seldom can you follow this practice in the 
police department. You need to become a constant critic of your 
own reports. 

You will do a better job of editing if you read aloud. You 
should read the report t\vo or three times. Follo^v these steps: 

First Reading 

Check the content of the report. 
Is the report based upon facts? 


Edilini!; the Report 83 

Is it l>;isi(l U[)()ii sound r(.as()iiiMj>? 

Does it contain sufficient inlonnation? 

Are more examples needed? 

Do the facts need more interpretation? 

Has too much material been included? 

Are the sources of information the best obtainable? 

Second Reading 

Check the effectiveness ot organization. 

Is the subject stated clearly? 

Is the suljject advanced in clear-cut and logical stages? 

Is the connection between stages clear? 

Third Reading 

Check diction, sentence structure, paragraphing, and typogra- 
phical style. 

Are the words appropriate to the reader and situation? 

Has the report been adjusted to an appropriate reading level? 

Are words specific and concrete, rather than vague and abstract? 

Have too many legal, technical, elaborate, bookish, and trite 

words been used? 

Are the sentences simple, clear, and effective? 

Can sentences be improved by deleting "deadheads," replacing 

"scatterbrain" words, and digging out smothered verbs? 

Do the paragraphs convey the meaning intended, focus and hold 

the attention of the reader, tie together, and move smoothly from 

one to the other? 

Is the grammar correct? 

Are words spelled or abbreviated correctly? 

Are words, phrases, clauses, and sentences properly punctuated? 


Rewrite your report in the order indicated. First, change the 
content in places where changes are necessary. Second, re^vrite 
and rearrange for effectivness of organization, Third, correct your 
diction, sentence structure, paragraphing, and typographical style. 
You may find that to do a good job even requires a fourth read- 
ing. If that is the case, use your fointh step to correct spelling, 
abbreviations, punctuation, and grammar. It may actually save you 
some time in the lon<> run. 

84 Basic Police Report Writing 


Regardless of the energies you exert, you will find that you 
have limitations as a critic of your own writing. Your word choice 
may be abstract, your sentences too long and involved, your organ- 
ization confused, your meaning obscure— any of a number of 
faults may be present without your being aware of them. ^Vhat 
then? Ho\v can you eliminate misinterpretation and misunder- 

In the police department you \vork with others— in the same 
vehicle, in the same office or another do^vn the hall. Try your re- 
port on your partner or the man next to you. Have him serve as a 
disinterested reader. 

Even if he can tell you nothing more than that the meaning is 
not clear, he is providing necessary criticism; he is facing you Avith 
the responsibility of finding out why the meaning didn't get across 
and then doing something about it. 

If he can tell you that you have failed to bring out essential 
facts in the investigation, that the solution to your problem is 
illogical, that you are too w^ordy, or that the organization does not 
follow a natural sequence— then he is a valuable critic. Strangely 
enough, your partner may be able to do all of this and more, if 
you ask him to become your reader. He doesn't need special 
training for this work— just common sense and an attitude of doing 
for you Avhat he would like you to do for him. 

Here are a few^ ideas about what to look for in your partner's 
report and what to suggest in conference with him: 


Is the meaning of the report clear? If not, point out those things 
that confuse you. Ask him to tell you what he means. \Vork out 
with him a statement that is clear to both of you. 

Over-all Organization 

Your partner's difficulty may be over-all organization. If so, talk 
over the total report with him. What is he trying to say? To whom? 
Ask him to jot down the main ideas he wants to put over. His 
notes will serve as a rough outline. If major points within the re- 

lulitina; the Report H5 

purl arc \\cll-(lc\cl()j)C(l, total organization can sometimes be im- 
proved by shiltino whole paragraphs. 

Word Choice 

Is the writer showing oft? Does he use too many legal and tech- 
nical terms? Does he conceal meaning in big words? Suggest re- 
placing siiowy words \vith simpler words, conmion w'ords for legal 
and technical terms. Use the dictionary to find the easier word. 
Help him to discover smothered verbs, and rescue them. Locate 
and remove "scatterbrain" Avords. 

Sentence Structure 

Are his sentences grammatically correct? If not, make proper 
notations in the margins. Are sentences too long and involved? If 
so, simaest breakino" long sentences into two or more sentences, 
putting main ideas in separate sentences. 


Are paragraphs too long? Suggest that he give the reader fre- 
quent rest periods. Does the thought move easily from one point 
to another? If there are sudden jumps, suggest transitional words, 
phrases, or paragraphs, or an additional sentence as a transitional 

Level of Abstraction 

If there is need for support of generalization with more speci- 
fic material, suggest more specific examples or concrete rather than 
abstract words. 


Limited rewriting, minor corrections, and changes to conform 
to style are usually necessary in even the final draft. If these cor- 
rections are minor— inserting pinictuation, a letter or a word, or 
substituting a phrase— they can be made in the text of the material 
without making the copy illegible. The symbols which may be 
found at the end of this chapter (called copyreading marks by 
editors and printers) are useful in editing reports. You may find 
these useful in editing your own report or that of your partner. 

86 Basic Police Report Writing 

When you edit your report, remember that compliance with 
good typographical style is a "must" if your report is to be easy 
to read. Typographical style has to do with capitalization, spelling, 
punctuation, figures, abbreviations, addresses, and titles. Consis- 
tency is probably the most important principle of style. If you do 
not capitalize r in Colorado river the first time in your report, con- 
tinue the practice; do not later write Colorado River. If you use 
the expression theater, continue to use that spelling; don't change 
to theatre. (See the example of neatly edited copy at the end of 
this chapter.) 

The following marginal notes may be useful in editing copy 
under the partnership method of review: 

agree Pronoun and antecedent, or subject and verb 

don't agree 

amb Ambiguous word or phrase 

apos Insert apostrophe 

awk Awkward construction of word or sentence 

sbw Scatterbrain word; replace with a specific word 

cap Capital letter needed 

clear? Is this clear? 

coh Coherence; sentence lacks clear order and con- 
nection; related parts are not together 

colloq Colloquial expression 

concr Use concrete word rather than abstract 

(jead Deadhead word; eliminate it 

dng Dangling expression— lacks connection 

emph? Is this arrangement emphatic? 

fig Use figure, rather than spelling out 

frag Fragment of a sentence 

gr Faulty grammar 

jarg Jargon 

Ic Use lower case letter 

Meaning Word or sentence is not clear 

p Paragraph needed 

No No paragraph needed 

pass Passive voice; should use active 

pn Punctuation needed 

ref? To what does this pronoun refer? 

rep Repetition, redundancy 

smo-verb Smothered verb 

sp incorrect spelling 

str Construction is not parallel 

Editing the Report 87 

tense Change tense of verb 

tr Transpose letters, words, elements, etc. 

trite Word or expression overworked 

true? Is this a true statement 

vague Need more details 

wordy Should be shortened 


Basic Police Report Writing 

research and develonment section 

the jhief 

intelligence iweau 

The ( capt ^ excused ^) r.en 

( ^aptal ^ R. S. Smith is ^Ixt^ 

He will go to morrow 

Ke vrad^ere today 

To fearnestly t desirel 

presentat^y/h ^ 

J, F. Smith, a formeryof ficer 

infallible neas/ure 

Problem | solution^ type 

Report iriiarein periodic infornatiory 
a t e to otQ^utoc /of operation is recorded 

J(l) He interprets 

^Section iC 

Ccpj-reading IlarksC 

4" Tldrty nien reported 


John %)Snith 

Mondaygthe first 

as follov;s(5 

yet not effective(t) 

well- or ganized 

style^formal, informal 

a cop hater 




o'lrrontly available 


Type in capital letters 
Capitalize the letter indicated 
Type in lower case letters 
Spell out 

Abbreviate or use figiires 
Bring together, no space 
Separate, insert space 
Transpose words 
Transpose letters 
Insert a word 

Delete a letter and close up 
Change a word 

Delete words and close up 

Indent or move to right 

Center this on the page 

Move to left 

Begin a paragraph 

Delete punctuation mark 

Insert a period 

Insert a comma 

Insert colon 

Insert semicolon 

Insert Hj'phen 

Insert dash 

Insert quotation marks 

Insert apostrophe 

Is this correct? 

Let it stand 

Delete a word 

A single letter is wrong 

Editing the Report 89 

Here' 3 an example of a neatly edited copy: 

Lints of " Witnesses and l:^xhibit; 

In th^inal report of a cise it is necessary «r or advantageous 
to vioibly present a list of witnesses tc the reader. This list contains(f) 
(l) the names and addresses of those persons who have inforiiiation about 
the cas^^(2) a brief sentence indicating the nature of the testijnony 
each will give. Reference may be made by'^aragraph number to the details 
Hrel^ mention is made of the witness and his information. ''^The final 

heading of a report is usually titled list of |xhiblts. This list names 
the articles classified as exhibits, iiach must be adequately described. 


Chapter XI 

i HE FOUNDATION OF ADEQUATE Operational reporting is field note 
taking. Field notes may be taken by a complaint clerk on a com- 
plaint memo at the time ol the receipt ol a complaint at head- 
quarters, or they may be taken by an officer on his beat in the per- 
formance of his routine duties at the scene of a criminal investi- 
gation or by him when assigned or assisting in an investigation. 
Regardless of the time and place, they are the raAv materials from 
which operational reports are made and are the chief aids in reach- 
ing one of the end products of police work, namely the successful 
prosecution of ofienders. Field notes represent the original source 
material employed in writing case sheets, arrest sheets, preliminary 
investigation reports, supplementary investigation reports, and 
other related records; they form the basis for future action to be 
taken in any given case. 

Field notes are necessary because of the inability of people to 
remember. A good memory is a wonderful asset, but very few 
persons have cultivated this faculty to such an extent that all de- 
tails can be recalled at a later time. You shoidd not rely upon your 
memory. It may be several hours after the commission of the crime 
or the receipt of a complaint before you have the opportunity to 
write your report. You should not be burdened by the task of 
trying to remember those incidents that can be jotted down. A 
written record impresses the incident more indelibly on your 
mind, and a reference to a few words in your notebook, on many 
occasions, will act as a mental hitching post for a train of connected 
thoughts relating to the event. 

A notebook is the index to your memory w^hen you testify in 
court. When you rely upon your memory alone, you will be un- 
certain and indefinite in your answers to questions asked by at- 
torneys. Keep in mind that your memory is likely to fail at critical 


94 Basic Police Report Writing 

nionients, particulary when you are trying to recall seemingly 
minor but important details such as measurements, directions, and 
tlie exact words spoken by a victim, witness, or suspect. 

Law enforcement is a business; adequate reporting is a vital 
part of this business. You should remember that absolute thorough- 
ness and accuracy in all things are of the greatest importance. In 
fact, if your department does not already do so, it ^\•ould do well 
to establish definite rules and regulations requiring you and others 
in the department to maintain field notebooks, to carry them at 
all times while on duty, and to follow prescribed procedures in the 
matter of yoin field note taking. 


Crime data should be recorded in your notebook clearly, com- 
pletely, concisely, and accurately. 

Clear notes are neat, legible, and understandable. You should 
not use shorthand in the taking of notes unless there are others in 
the department who can read your system. 

Complete notes cover all the details of the crime: What? When? 
Where? Who? How? Why? and information regarding negative, 
unusual, and missing facts. To minimize overlooking some of the 
elements of completeness, some officers have found it helpful to 
paste to the inside co\er of their noteloooks the following words: 
Who, What, Where, When, W^hy, and How. No matter ho^v com- 
plicated and detailed your report may be, if these six questions 
have not been answered, you don't have a good report. Remember 
that some insignificant thing on which you place little value might 
be the \ ery thing which would make a positive connection to a per- 
son known to be operating in another jurisdiction: make notations 
of even the most insignificant facts. This means taking notes on all 
unusual or out of the ordinary acts committed during, before, or 
after tiie perpetration of the crime. Complete note taking also 
involves sketching the crime scene during the initial period of the 
in\ estigation and recording measiuements. 

Concise notes are brief ones with the essential facts included. 
They are notes that are not complicated by unnecessary and in- 
comprehensible ^^'ords, phrases, and abbreviations. Be sure that 

Field Note Taknii^ 95 

your notes contain only the necessary inlorniation and are under- 

Acciudic tiotc.s i\H\u(\i;: (1) the correct time and date; (2) the 
correct names ol all persons present or other^vise involved, includ- 
ing oflicers as well as suspects, witnesses, etc; (3) the complete and 
correct residence address, business address, and telephone numbers 
of all persons concerned; (4) an exact description ol the crime 
scene; (5) accurate description ol property and motor vehicles 
involved; and (6) case, arrest, and indent ihcation numbers when 
they are available. Ace urate note taking also involves the elimina- 
tion of slang and vulgarisms luiless they have a direct bearing 
on the case. In the event that you enter them in your notes as a part 
of a suspect's statement, they should be enclosed in quotation 
marks. Your own opinions have no place in the notes. Cause your 
notes to form a \vord picture of the investigation based upon facts 


Your notebook, Avhen properly selected and maintained, is 
just about the most important law enforcement tool that you have 
at your disposal. It not only serves as your memory, it is your guide 
in the interrogation of witnesses, victim, and suspects. You should 
use it in the subsequent writing of your reports and as a ready 
reference when you appear in court. Make it useful in serving all 
purposes, not just one purpose. 

Using the Notebook in Interrogations 

The application of your field notes to the techniques of inter- 
viewing can be acquired only through experience and the use of 
certain fundamental practices. 

Interrogations are delicate situations, and many people are 
overawed, frightened, or even panic-stricken by your authority. 
So, in most cases yoin^ approach should be friendly, helpful, and 
informal. Good will and excellent public relations, which may 
have taken the department years to establish, can almost vanish 
during a poorly conducted interview^ One rude and ill-mannered 
officer can destroy public respect for his fellow officers. Also, though 

96 lidsif Police Report Writing 

the complainant may be nervous and ,seemin«ly uncooperative, he 
may be a very prominent citizen; the suspect may not be the 
perpetrator of the crime, and he may be a reporter wlio ^vorks 
for a very influential ne^vspaper! 

Keep your notebook out of sight initil you have studied the 
situation carefully and have gained the confidence of the person 
involved. A successful officer sells himself and his department by 
being calm, thorough, business-like, and friendly. Use your note- 
book only wiien you are sure that note taking will be of benefit 
rather than harm to the case. 

You'll find that the ordinary complainant won't be reluctant 
to talk freely about the case. However, if he is emotionally upset, 
it is better for you to get a rapid-fire verbal accotuit and then ask 
him to repeat the story slo^vly in order that adequate notes can 
be taken. 

When you are dealing with a witness, you should first appeal to 
him for his help. This also can be done in a friendly, businesslike 
manner. \V'hen the witness is sympathetic to^vard the cause, he ^vill 
probably voliuiteer some information. As in the interview with 
the complainant, allo^v him the courtesy of a verbal statement be- 
fore you enter any information in the notes. In some instances you 
will find that a witness will be agreeable to signing a short state- 
ment covering his knowledge of the offense. Get this information 
once you have the facts recorded in your notes. 

Of comse, the suspect offers your most difficult problem. He 
is prone to refuse to talk luider any circumstances and especially 
in the presence of a notebook; therefore, discuss the issue ^vith him 
and, if he commits himself to a story, bring out the notebook and 
go over the matter with him again. This is not to say that this is 
the only Avay. There are many occasions where circinnstances alter 
the situation and a different procedure might be advisable. Use 
common sense in the matter. 

Regardless of the person being interviewed, field notes are 
most useful when you pay particular attention to what is being 
said. Your notes take on a special meaning when notations are 
made on the emphasis on words or phrases and the stress on certain 
ideas that were made by the intervie^vee. Notations made on im- 

Field Note T(ikin;j, 97 

poitant terms, tone ol \()i(c. attitude, mannerisms, and other 
pecidiarities of the person inter\ iewed will pay off in yoin- efforts 
to sohe the crime. 

Using the Notebook in Court 

Many times complete, clear, concise, and accurate notes have 
been wholly responsible for the successful outcome of a prosecu- 
tion; and, by the same token, poorly recorded, inadequate, and 
inaccinate notes have resulted in unnecessary acqiuttals ^vhich 
have brought criticism and discredit upon the department and em- 
barrassment to the investioatinsf officer. 

W'hile the primary pmpose of note taking is to prepare the 
preliminary investigation report on a given offense, you should 
not lose sight of the fact that notes can and will be used in court, 
and, on occasion, as an aid in testifying. 

State law generally permits a Asitness to refresh his memory as 
to facts by the use of anything written by himself, or under his di- 
rection, at the time the fact occurred, immediately thereafter, or 
at any other time Avhen the facts ^vere still fresh in his memory. 
HoAvever, the ^vriting must be produced for the benefit of all per- 
sons concerned and may be seen by the ad\erse party, Avho may, 
if he chooses, cross-examine the ^vitness upon it and read it to the 
jury. Thus, you may testify from your field notes, though you re- 
tain no recollection of the particular facts. 

When you ^vork ^\•itll a partner on a case, it is permissible for 
only one of you to keep the notes so long as they apply to what both 
of you saw% did, and heard ^\hile together. But you should make 
certain that both of you read and initial the notes at the time they 
are made. Through this technique the two of you can preser\ e yoin^ 
competency to testify from the notes should the opportunity pre- 
sent itself. 


Just as the carpenter must be equipped ^vith his hammer and 
sa\v or the physician his scalpel and forceps, you must be properly 
equipped for the performance of your note taking task. T^vo 
writing instruments, preferably fountain pens, are a "nuist." 


Basic Police Report Writing 

There is no universal type of notebook which will suit all in- 
dividuals. Writing habits, penmanship style, and type of writing 
medium are the governing factors. Yet, you should remember that 
a notebook nuist be carried at all times and should be of a size 
which ^vill not detract from your efficiency or appearance. The 
following suggestions are offered as a guide. 

1. Obtain a 334"x63/^ flexible, leather, looseleaf notebook. This 
type is easily carried in your pocket and provides adequate space 
for writing notes (see Fig. 1). 

2. Equip the notebook with visible index tabs to separate the 
various sections of the notebook (see Fig. 2) . 

3. Provide sections for offense reports (preliminary investigation 
report.s) , follow-up, arrests, vagrants, wanted and missing persons, 
outside wanted and missing persons, military "wants," stolen 
automobiles, stolen bicycles, miscellaneous information, and others 
that your individual situation may demand. 

Fig. 1. Field Notebook, 3% inches by 634 inches, flexible leather looseleaf. 

Field \(jt(' T (I kins: 


Fig. 2. Field Notebook. 3% by 63/J inches. Note how this small, flexible book 

fits conveniently into the hand. This notebook can be used effectively under 

very adverse writing conditions. 

100 Basic Police Report Writing 


Exercise the same care in the treatment of your note taking 
equipment as you do of other personal equipment. Two fountain 
pens are recommended since ink notes do not easily become 
smudged or illegible. Keep the pen full of ink. Check all of your 
note taking equipment ^vhen you go on duty. Don't allow your 
notebook to become soiled or torn. An ample supply of ruled 
paper and forms should always be a\'ailable. Place your name, tele- 
phone number, and home address in the inside cover of the note- 
book in permanent ink. 

Notes no longer in use should be filed in envelopes l)y month 
and year and/or by case number. Index these notes so that they 
can be used as reference Avithout difficulty and delay. 


The first section of your notebook should consist of notebook- 
size forms— miniature forms most frequently used in your routine 
duties (see Form 1) —and your supply of unused, ruled paper for 
convenient use in your ^vork. When you open your notebook, you 
should be able to start writing immediately without fumbling 
through the ^vhole book. 

The second section, the offense section, should contain your 
notes on all incidents assigned to you, unless you have moved 
them to the follo\\'-up section. Use only one page for each incident. 
No other notes on other cases should be placed on the sheet, not 
even on the reverse side. When the case is closed, the page or pages 
of notes on a particular case should be removed and filed. 

The third section is the jollow-up section mentioned pre- 
viously. It contains notes on cases that recpiire additional action 
and notations of any type of business that you need to attend to. 

The fourth section, vacation section, contains your list of pre- 
mises Avhere occupants are absent, including the location of the 
key or caretaker and a record of the inspections that you have made 
of the place. 

The arrest section should provide a systematic list of all persons 
whom you have arrested. Along with the name of the arrestee, you 

Used for: 



By whom lost 


Telephone „ _ „ 

Business address Telephone 

By whom found „ _ 

Address _ „ Telephone 

Business address Telephone 

Where found , 

Bay, date and time found 

Property now In custody of 


Owner notified by. 
Name Stcr.. 

Day, dote and time notified. 

1 & 4cc 

Form 1. Miniature Report Form For Field Note Taking (3:^4 "xOs,") 

102 Basic Police Report Writing 

should include race, sex, occupation, home and business address, 
telephone numbers, the charge, the place of arrest, and the date. 
You may transfer this information from the offense and follo\v-tip 
sections of the notebook at the time the arrests are made. 

The vagrant section consists of a list, including valuable infor- 
mation, of all persons arrested for vagrancy within the jurisdic- 
tion. Information for this section may be obtained daily from the 
Daily Police Bulletin. 

The icanled persons section contains data regarding persons 
wanted in the local jinisdiction for crime as ^vell as information 
on inissing persons. 

Outside wanted persons section should be kept separate from 
local "^\•ants.'" It contains data regarding persons ^vanted or mis- 
sing in other police jurisdictions. 

Information for the military wants section can be obtained 
periodically from military police organizations in the area. It 
should consist of an arrangement of persons ^vanted by the mili- 
tary for A.W.O.L., desertion, and other military offenses. 

The stolen automobile section should contain a list of automo- 
biles stolen in the jurisdiction plus a separate list of others stolen 
throuohout the state. Each stolen vehicle shoidd be identified in 
the notes by license ntmiber, followed by model, make, and other 
identifying information. 

The stolen bicycle section shotild contain a name list and ad- 
ditional identifying information on all bicycles stolen in the jinis- 

The general information, or miscellaneous section, may contain 
certain frequently used sections of the penal code, vehicle code, 
and local ordinances; excerpts from the manual of rides and regu- 
lations; copies of various procedures; list of police aids such as 
Avelfare agencies, hospitals, and ambulance and ^vrecker services; 
or any other information that ^vill assist you in the performance of 
your duties. 


Although there are other methods of internal arrangement of 
your field notebook, t^vo particular methods are recommended: 

F/rld Xolc Tahiiii!; I 0.1 

the alphabetical and daily diary systems. Ihe alphabetical system 
proN ides lor the arrangement ot certain sections of the notebook in 
alphabetical order. The daily diary system calls for arrangement 
according to the date the notes were taken. When a combination of 
the two systems is used, inij^ortant information is easy to locate, 
a permanent record of activities is maintained for future reference, 
and information on \acant premises, wanted and missing persons, 
stolen antomol)iles, and stolen bicycles is ahvays at yonr fingertips. 

The Alphabetical System 

The alphabetical system is the simple application of the alpha- 
bet to the names involved. The name may be that of a person, 
bicycle, or a crime as defined in the penal code. Apply the system 
to the arrest, wanted persons, outside wanted persons, military 
wants, vagrants, and miscellaneous sections of the notebook. Tiie 
\'acation section may best be arranged both alphabetically accord- 
ing to named streets and numerically according to house numbers 
and niniibered streets. 

The Daily Diary System 

The daily diary system works effectively in the arrangement of 
both the offense and follow-up sections. As finally arranged, the 
daily diary applies to the 2nd and 3rd sections of the notebook. 

Use a separate sheet for each incident reported. If a tour of 
duty is luieventfid or without anything of importance to report, 
it should Ije accoiuited for by the usual heading with the words 
"Nothing of importance" or some similar statement. Account for 
day or days off by entering the date or spread of dates together 
^vith the \vords "day off" or "days off." Each separate entry in the 
daily diary system contains t\v'o principal parts: the heading and 
the body of the notes. 

The Heading. The iniormation that you will use foi the head- 
ing of each incident j)age will depend on ^\Ilere you are working, 
yoiu" department, and the type of \vork you are doing. Assimiing, 
however, that you are working a beat as a patrolman, \vith a part- 
ner, and using a department vehicle, each day's heading should 
contain the followino six entries: 

104 Basic Police Report Writing 

1. The date 

2. Case number 

3. Shift or watch number 

4. Beat number 

5. Your partner's name and badge number 

6. The vehicle equipment number 

The date and case numbers should appear in the upper right- 
hand corner. Enter the beat number and your partner's name and 
badge number in the center of the sheet. Place the shift number 
and vehicle equipment nimibers in the upper left-hand corner. 

The heading, Avhen complete, should be printed in ink as 
shown in Fisure 3. 

(/^^/yz}j^ /^^^/>ol) 

Fig 3. Illustration of heading of a daily diary insert in the field notebook. 

The Body. Keep the body of the daily diary entry of activities 
as brief as possible, preferably in telegraphic form, otherwise in a 
short time your notebook ^vill become miwieldy and impractical. 
For example, let us assume the above heading and complete the 
body of an appropriate entry for the following incident: 

About 8:30 A.M. an officer got a call to check a theft report at 
856- 16th Street. He arrived at that address and got the complain- 
ant's name, Mrs. Rosalie Roe, Negro, female, 30 years of age. She 
gave information regarding the theft of a fur coat ^vhich she des- 
cribed as imitation mink. 

All information obtained from Mrs. Roe is \vritten in long- 
hand on a clean sheet of paper in the field notebook. The pre- 
liminary investigation report is completed from this information. 

I'irld Note Taking 105 

The daily diary entry is made in the notebook as shown in Figure 


Here is a formula h)r obtaining necessary information dining a 
preliminary investigation. Check your field notes against this 
fornuda to be sure that you have gotten the necessary facts. 

I. Who? 

Who was the victim? 

Who made the report? 

Who discovered the crime? 

Who saw or heard something of importance? 

Who had a motive for (ommitting the crime? 

Who committed the crime? 

Who helped him? 

Wlio will sign the complaint? 

Who was talked to? 

Who worked on the case? 

Who marked the evidence? 

Who received the evidence? 

S/7- /^erW^ JX 

Fig. 4. Illustration of a complete daily diary entry in the field notebook. 


Basic Police Report Writing 

i^^r.^£ ^^ 

fjf^l^^^^ /^y^/ 7t ^. <^^ 

.^^ £r /^ ^^^ ^ ^^yj 


^/^^jT-j ^ y /Z^/ -- //,yf 


Fig. 5. A page from the offense section of a field notebook. Note the tele- 
grapliic style used in recording the information. 


What was the nature of the crime committed? 

What actions were taken by the suspect? 

What happened? 

\\'hat do the witnesses know about it? 

Wfiat evidence was obtained? 

What was done with the evidence? 

What tools were used? 

Field Note Taking " 107 

Wluit action tlid ilic ofTuer take? 
W'liat further action is needed? 

W'liat knowledoe, skill, or strength was needed to com- 
mit the crime? 

What other agencies were notified? 
What was reported but did not occur? 
What witnesses were not contacted? 
What time was the crime conmiitted? 
What time was the crime reported? 
What was the time of your arrival? 
What time did you contact witnesses? 


Where was the crime discovered? 

Where was the crime committed? 

Where were the tools or weapons obtained? 

Where was the victim? 

Where was the suspect seen? 

Where w-as the witness? 

Where did the criminal live? 

Where did the criminal hang out? 

Where is he now? 

Where would he most likely go? 

Where was he apprehended? 

Where was the e\idence marked? 

Where was the evidence stored? 

WHien was the crime committed? 

When was the crime disco\ered? 

When was the authorities notified? 

When did the authorities arrive at the scene? 

When was the guilty party arrested? 

When was the victim last seen? 

When did help arrive? 

When will the complaint be signed? 

5. How; 

How was the crime committed? 

How did the criminal get to the scene? 

How did the criminal get away? 

How did the criminal obtain information in order to 

commit the crime? 

How was the crime discovered? 

How were the tools obtained? 

How did you get your information regarding the 


How did you manage the arrest? 

108 Basic Police Report ]Vriti)ig 

6. With What? 

W^ith what tools was the crime committed? 

W^ith what weapons was the crime committed? 

With what means did the criminal travel to and from 

the scene? 

a. Auto 

b. Bicycle 

c. Train 

d. Bus 

e. On foot 

f. etc. 

With what trade or profession are the tools associated? 
With what other crime is this crime associated? 

7. Why? 

Why was the crime committed? 

Why were the tools used? 

Why were certain weapons used? 

Why was the crime reported? 

Why were witnesses reluctant to talk? 

Why was the witness anxious to point out guilty 


Why so much time before the crime was reported? 

Why did the criminal use a certain MO of entry? 

8. With Whom? 

With whom did the criminal associate? 

With whom was the victim last seen? 

With whom are the witnesses connected? 

With whom did the criminal commit the crime? 

With whom did you talk at the scene and at other 


With whom did you work on the investigation? 

With whom did you expect to locate the suspect? 

9. How Much? 

How much damage was done? 

How much property was taken? 

How much knowledge was necessary to commit the 


How much money was taken (denomination) ? 

How much did the victim claim was stolen? 

How much trouble was it to carry the property away? 

How much information are the witnesses not giving out? 

How much is the victim v.-ithholding? 

How much additional information do you need to help 

solve the crime? 

Chapter XII 


DEQLATE REPORTING AND RECORDS keeping procedures require 
that your department report and record, in some manner, all in- 
cidents that come to its attention. A case or complaint sheet is a 
basic, permanent, ^\■ritten record of reports of incidents and the 
action taken regarding them. Only three forms are retpiired in 
case reporting: the "General Complaint Sheet," the "Casualty 
Sheet," and the "Miscellaneous Service Complaint." Our discus- 
sion in this chapter ^vill deal exclusively with the procedures and 
content of these reports. 

The case sheet is the foundation of the record for any case 
or incident since, in the records keeping process, all other related 
reports are attached to it. In addition, the case sheet is important 
for purpose of administrative revieAv and control. It gives assurance 
that complaints have been received, recorded, assigned, posted, 
systematically dealt ^vith, inspected, and followed up. 

Who Prepares the Case Sheet? 

If you are the complaint clerk, it is your responsibility to pre- 
pare the case sheet. In a small department you may do this along 
with the duties of desk sergeant, information clerk, and dispatcher. 
If your department is large, this may be your only job. In any 
event, the work is the type that must be centralized, and you are 
the only person ^vho can be held responsible for it. 

How is the Information Received? 

You may receive information regarding a case in a number of 
ways. The complainant may telephone, make his complaint in 
person, or send a letter or telegram. Information may be received 
in the form of a warrant. When officers initiate their own investi- 
gations and make arrests on sight, you will receive your informa- 
tion from investigation and arrest reports. 


110 Basic Police Report Writing 

When is the Case Sheet Prepared? 

Unless the situation is an emergency, complete the case sheet 
as soon as yon receive the information. On the other hand, if im- 
mediate action is necessary, relay the information to the dispatcher 
and record the information on the data sheet later. If yon delay 
action until investigation officers report their findings, some cases 
will appear so insignificant that you will not record them. This re- 
sults in an incomplete account of the activities of your department 
and a loss of control over those incidents that you have not re- 
corded. Remember that a record is required from the beginning of 
the complaint so that foUo^v-up controls will facilitate proper dis- 
position of all cases. 

What Incidents Call For the Case Sheet? 

Almost all incidents reported to your department require that 
you, as the complaint clerk, shall initiate a case sheet. Make case 
sheets on the following incidents: 

1. Most violations of federal and state laws and city and county 

2. Most calls on which officers are dispatched. 

3. Reports of lost and found persons, animals, and property. 

4. Warrants, subpoenas, and arrests in which a record of arrest 
is prepared, with the exception of multiple arrests for which a 
single case sheet is sufficient. 

5. Cases in which a police officer is involved in any way in damage 
to public or private property or injury to any person. 

6. Casualties including automobile, public, home, occupational, 
and firearms accidents; dog bite cases; suicides; attempted 
suicides; sudden deaths; bodies found; sick cared for; and men- 
tal cases. 

7. Other cases when administrative orders, rules, and regulations 
or a commanding officer demand a case sheet. 

Don't make a case sheet on the following: 

1. Violations of state law and local ordinances which are observed 
by the police officer and result only in a warning to the violator. 

2. Violations of state law and local traffic ordinances handled by 
traffic citations. 

3. Minor traffic accidents involving only property damage less than 
an amount established by your department as reportable. 

Reporting (he Case 111 

4. Calls oil which olhccrs arc dispatched which are mere requests 
for inforinatioii, or which result Irom trafFu violations not en- 
danf>crin,tr human life. 

How Many Copies of the Case Sheet? 

If your departineiu has no specialized divisions, only the origi- 
nal of the case sheet is necessary. But if your department has some 
specialized di\isions, make a duplicate copy of the case sheet when 
you assign a case directly to a specialized division. The original 
copy will be forwarded to the records division and the duplicate 
to the specialized division. Under this procedure, officers in the 
specialized division don't have to waste time getting the original 
from the records office. 

How Many Case Sheets Are Made on a Single Incident? 

Since statistical data are derived from the case sheets and ac- 
curacy is of prime importance, one of your more important de- 
cisions relating to case sheets should be: How many case sheets 
shall I make on a single incident? The folloAving rules, adapted 
from Uniform Crime Reporting/ determine the number of case 
sheets you should make in any case. 

In Part 1 cases the rides for oflFenses against the person differ 
from those against property; consequently, they are presented 
luider two general divisions. 

Offenses Against the Person. Part 1 cases against the person 
include felonious homicide, rape, and aggravated assault. Make 
one case sheet for each person against them whom an offense is 
committed. The nimiber of case sheets you make equals the num- 
ber of persons killed, raped, maimed, ^vounded, or assaulted, plus 
the number of attempts. For example, if one person kills t^vo peo- 
ple, make two case sheets, if two people murder one person, make 
only one case sheet. 

Offenses Against Property. Part 1 cases against property in- 
clude robbery, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. Make a case sheet 
for each distinct operation that has been undertaken. Observe the 
followino rides: 

^U. S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation: Uniform Crime Re- 
porting Handbook. Washington, D. C, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1935. 

112 Basic Police Report Writing 

1. Make a case sheet for each distinct robbery. If two persons rob 
one, or one person robs two at the same time, make only one 
case sheet. 

2. Make only one case sheet for one or several rooms entered in 
a burglary committed in a hotel or lodging house on the same 
occasion; make a separate case sheet on each apartment or office 
suite entered even though it is one of a number of entries made 
in the same building at the same time. 

3. Make a case sheet for each distinct operation in cases of theft. 
If a thief steals a number of articles, all stored in one place but 
belonging to different persons, make only one larceny case sheet. 
If articles or accessories are stolen from several automobiles 
parked on the street, even though in adjoining spaces, make 
a separate case sheet on each larceny. However, if they are taken 
in a single operation from a number of cars in a parking lot or 
garage, make a single case sheet on the series. 

4. Make a case sheet for each automobile stolen, plus the number 
of attempts. Include cars used for "joy rides." Remember, 
however, that failure to return a rented or borrow-ed car, em- 
bezzlements, and conversions are not classified as auto thefts. 

5. When several offenses are committed by one person at the same 
time, make a case sheet for the offense that comes first in the 
Uniform Classification of Crimes. For example, a burglary and 
auto theft are committed on the same occasion; make one case 
sheet for the burglary. 

6. Make a case sheet on each Part 1 crime confessed by the offender 
only when the victim is known and the offense is established. 

Part II Cases. All criminal offenses not included in Part I are 
included in Part II. In Part II offenses against the person, make 
one case sheet for each person against ^vhom an offense is commit- 
ted. In Part II offenses against property make one case sheet for 
each distinct operation. In cases of single violation of state, comity, 
or city ordinances perpetrated by a single person make a case sheet 
for each distinct violation of the law. 

Make a separate case sheet on each Part II arrest, except in 
cases when t^vo or more persons are arrested at the same time and 
place and on the same charge; or when two or more persons are 
arrested at the same time and place on several charges, the most 
serious of which is the same in each instance. 

Part III Cases. Incidents of lost and foimd persons, animals. 

R('{)orting the Case 113 

and property are recorded as Part III cases. Their classification as 
Lost or Found depends upon which incident was first reported to 
your department, not upon Avhich incident first became known. 
Make only one case sheet on each incident. If the loss was reported 
first, make a Lost sheet; the act ol findin.i; is reported on the same 
sheet. If something is found, the finding is reported on a Found 
sheet; when the owner reports the loss, the information is recorded 
on this same sheet. 

Part IV Cases. Part I\^ cases are casualties including motor 
vehicle, other traffic, public, home, occupational, and firearms 
accidents; dog bite cases; suicides; attempted suicides; sudden 
deaths; bodies found; sick cared for; and mental cases. 

Make one case sheet for each motor vehicle accident even 
though several persons are injured. In firearms accidents, dog bite 
cases, suicides, attempted suicides, sudden deaths, bodies found, 
sick cared for and mental cases, make a case sheet for each person 
injured or dead, or each person attempting suicide even though un- 
injured. The number of case sheets that you make equals the num- 
ber of suicides, attempted suicides, bodies found, sudden deaths, 
sick cared for, mental cases handled, persons bitten, and persons 
injured by firearms. In all other casualties, make only one case 
sheet for each accident, regardless of the number of casualties. 

Part V Cases. If your department requires case reporting of 
any other matters, the situations and incidents should be recorded 
as Part V cases. In recording Part \ cases, make one case sheet for 
each incident or matter reported. 


Use the general complaint sheet. Form 2, for all cases other 
than casualties and cases reported on "Miscellaneous Service Com- 
plaints." In initiating the report, remember that all data requested 
on the report form are needed for administrative purposes. A use- 
less item would not have been included. 

In the following discussion each item of the report is explained 
in detail, and a number is assigned; proper procedure dictates that 
you complete each item in sequence according to the number 
assigned to each explanation. 


Basic Police Report Writing 


Victim (4). 

Address (5) . 

Business (6) . 

Address (7) . 

Where Committed _ (8) . 

When (9). 

How (10). 



Prelim. Rept. by _ 

Ph Spec. Invest. 


Other Officers 

Persons Arrested 

CASE NO. (3) 




■ (22) 



Reported by 




Arrested bv (24) Date (25) 

Connect with Case No. _ (26) 



Platoon and Beat 

Reported to — 
Time Reported 

How Reported: Phone (17) Person Letter _ 

Patrol Officer Received Complaint by: 

Radio (18) Box On View At Station 




Duplicate to 

. (28) . 

Classification index card corrected: (29) 

Cleared by Arrest Date Clerk . 

Prop. Recovd-Val. Date Clerk. 

Unfounded Date Clerk. 

Classification Changed Date . Clerk . 

F.U. Officer Notified Date Clerk 




Date . 

F.U. Off. 
_ Date _ 

F.U. Off. 
_ Date 

Form 2. Complaint Sheet (8i/2"xir') 

Reportitig the Case 115 

Classification (1) 

Vou will note that Appendix R provides for 48 major uniform 
classifications of incidents. Enter one of these major classifications 
as the "Classification." For example, if the incident is criminal 
homicide, enter the words, "Criminal Homicide," in the space 
after "Classification." 

Subclassification (2) 

Enter the proper subheading in the space following "Sub- 
classification. ' For example, if the killing was willful, enter "Mur- 
der" or "Non-negligent Manslaughter." In entering both the 
"Classification" and "Subclassification," no distinction is made be- 
t^veen offenses committed by juveniles and those committed by 

Case Number (3) 

Each complaint sheet must be identified by a serial number, 
knowai as the "case number." It is your responsibility to assign this 
case number. Assign the number next in sequence. Be extremely 
carefid in assigning this number; all subsequent investigation re- 
ports and other forms and papers relating to the incident Avill be 
given this number by the officer who submits them. 

Victim (4) 

After "Victim," list the name of the victim, if there is one. If 
a person is arrested for an offense in ^vhich there is no particular 
victim or complainant other than the arresting officer, enter the 
name of the person arrested as the "Victim." If the victim is a busi- 
ness or institution, leave this item blank. 

Address (5) 

Give the complete address of the victim, if possible. 

Business or Institution (6) 

If the victim is a business or institution, leave the "Victim" 
space blank and complete items 6 and 7. Use the telephone or city 
directory as a guide in recording the complete and exact name. 

116 Basic Police Report Writing 

Address (7) 

Also record the exact address of the business or institution as 
given in the telephone or city directory. 

Where Committed (8) 

When the complainant alleges that the offense was committed 
in a city or incorporated town, record the exact street and building 
number. If the crime is alleged to have occurred in a rural area, 
establish its location by using familiar landmarks. 

When (9) 

If possible, record the exact day, month, and year that the inci- 
dent is alleged to have been committed. W^hen there is no degree 
of certainty as to the time of occurrence, record the time and date 
as nearly as possible; for example, "between 6:30 P.M. and 9:00 
P.M., 1/10/60." 

How (10) 

State the way in which the person or property was attacked. 
In burglary, property is attacked by breaking in. Give the point 
of entry, as rear window% first-floor side window, etc. In robbery, 
state the method of attack, as strongarmed, slugged, beaten, etc. In 
worthless checks, drafts, notes, forgeries, and the like, state if by 
passing, forging, or raising, or if by fictitious or fraudulent checks, 
drafts, or notes. In larceny, specify the place from which the prop- 
erty was taken; for example, cash register, bedroom, desk, kitchen, 

Persons Suspected (11) 

Complete the "Person Suspected" space only if the victim or 
person who reported the incident is able to give the name of a 
person whom he suspects or to give a description of an unknown 
suspect. Give the full name and/or description of the suspect, if 

Reported by (12) 

State the full name of the person Avho originally reported the 
matter to your department. The name of this person is more im- 
portant than the name of the officer who relays the report to you. 


Report i tig the Case 117 

Address (13) 

(iive the complete address of the person who reported the iiu i- 
dent to your department. 

Ph(me (14) 

JiK hide hoth the home j)hone and hiisiness phone nimd)ers ol 
the person who first rejjorted the incident. This information may 
save time later in the investigation. 

Reported To (15) 

Insert the fidl name of the officer to whom the case was first re- 
ported. Include platoon and beat numbers if the officer is a patrol- 
man. If you received the report directly from the victim or complai- 
nant, place your initials in the "Reported To" space. 

Time Reported (16) 

Give the hour, day, and year that the incident was reported to 
your department. 

How Reported (17) 

Indicate the method of reporting to the department by placing 
a check mark after "phone," "person," "letter or telegram." 

Patrol Officer Received Complaint By (18) 

If a patrolman received the complaint in the field, indicate the 
method by checking the appropriate box. Otherwise, leave the 
space blank. 

Assignment of Officers (19-22) 

As the complaint clerk, it is your duty to assign officers who 
worked or will work on the case. Enter the name of the officer 
assigned to make the preliminary report in the space "Preliminary 
Reported By." If you don't know the time of occurrence of the inci- 
dent, assign the patrol officers who covered that beat or patrol dis- 
trict during the hours when the offense may possibly have oc- 
curred. If a special investigator is assigned, place his name on the 
appropriate line. If the case is to be handled directly by the detec- 
tive division, assign the detective regularly assigned to such crimes 
as well as the patrol officer in the area in which the crime occurred. 

118 Basic Police Report Writing 

Person Arrested (23) 

Usually you \vill not know the names of persons arrested when 
you make up the complaint sheet. In such cases leave the "Persons 
Arrested" space blank; the information wdll be inserted in the 
records division once arrests have been made. In cases involving 
"on view" arrests or those in which a suspect or suspects are ar- 
rested at the crime scene or immediately, record the full names 
of all persons arrested. 

Arrested By (24) 

Enter the name of the arresting officer or officers. 

Date (25) 

Give the day, month, and year that the arrest was made. 

Connect With Case Number (26) 

Insert the case numbers of other cases that are related in some 
way to the case at hand. For example, a burglary suspect may have 
been arrested in a stolen automobile, in which event you should 
connect the stolen auto with the case which records the burglary. 
Similarly, you should connect the arrest of a person with the cases 
which record any other crimes he may have committed. Connect 
all cases on several crimes committed by the same criminal. In the 
latter situation select one of the cases as the "key" case in order 
that the personnel in the records division may file other reports 
with it. 

Property Stolen (27) 

Complete the "Property Stolen" space only ^vhen the case in- 
volves the theft of property. List a description of each item of 
property (see Appendix C for instructions) along w ith the present 
cash value. If you do not have enough space, insert "See Reverse" 
and use the back side of the sheet to complete the list. 

Duplicate To (28) 

Incert "Detective," "Traffic," "Vice," or "Juvenile" in the Dup- 
licate To" space when you make a duplicate copy and notify a 
specialized division of the incident. 

Reporting the Case 

I 1!) 

Classification Index Card Corrected (29) 

As the complaint clerk, you are not responsible for the com- 
pletion ot the "Classification Index Card Corrected" section. Ap- 
propriate records clerks will make the corrections or changes in 
the case sheet as alterations become necessary. This section pro- 
vides a permanent record when the clerks indicate the case is 
cleared by arrest, property has been recovered, or the classification 

Indexed, Inspected, and Closed (30) 

Like the "Classification Index Card Correted" section, this 
section serves an administrative purpose in the records division. 
When the case is indexed by a records clerk and inspected and 
closed by the follow-iip officer, the case sheet is initialed by the ap- 
propriate person and dated. 

Use Scratch Pad or Case Memo 

Yon will find it helpful to take your original notes on a scratch 
pad or a Complaint Memo (see Form 3) . The complaint memo 
contains the information necessary to complete the general com- 
plaint sheet. 



Residence Address 

Business or Institution 
Business Address 

AVhcre Committed 

Case No. 


Person Suspected 

Reported by 

Reported to 



Time Reported 

Beat Ofliccr can contact complainant at 


Beat onicer Contacted Complainant at Hcad(|uarters 


Form 3. Complaint Memo (8"x5") 

120 Basic Police Report IVritirio; 

Hold the complainant on the telephone or at the desk until 
you get all the inioiniation necessary to complete the report. 


The casualty sheet, Form 4, is just another form of case sheet; 
for the most part, the content is the same as the complaint sheet. 
Apply the same rules and procedures in the completion of the 
casualty sheet that you applied to the complaint sheet. Use this 
sheet in lieu of the general complaint sheet in reporting casualties 
including motor vehicle; other traffic; public, home, occupational, 
and firarms accidents; dog bite cases, suicide, attempted suicides, 
sudden deaths; bodies found, sick cared for and inental cases. 

Note that this case sheet bears the printed heading, Casualt). 
Insert the major classification of the casualty after the word 
CLASSIFICATION and the subclassification under the word 
SUBCLASSIFICATION. Insert the full name, address, and ex- 
tent of injury of all persons injured in the incident and all drivers 
invoked, if the case involves a traffic accident. Complete the re- 
mainder of the report in the same manner as you would complete 
a general case sheet. 


Tiiird, and last, among the case reports is the "Miscellaneous 
Service Complaint" (Form 5) . This form was designed for use in 
reporting complaints received and investigations made w^here 
neither of the other case reports is applicable. Use the form to re- 
port the results of the investigation of noise and domestic com- 
plaints, suspicious circumstances, civil matters, assistance provided 
for persons who are ill, suspicious auto complaints, frightened 
persons, suspicious persons, miscellaneous traffic complaints, bon- 
fires, services to householders, dangerous non-traffic hazards, re- 
quests for assistance from outside departments, and other minor 
criminal and non-criminal matters ^vhere no arrests are made, no 
citations are issued, and the whole of police activity is completed 
\\ith the submission of this one report. 

Unlike incidents of a more serious nature, matters reported on 
the '■Miscellaneous Service Complaint" do not require prior com- 

Reporlniir the Cose 121 


1. INJU«V_ 

2. \nj\i<iy_ 




6. iNJUBT 

1. OillVEO 

2. OaivEB 

3. O^ivEB 










How Repobtej: Phone Pebson 


Other Ofticebs 

removed to 

Connect •itm C»se no._ 

Platoon and Bea 

Duplicate to 

|N0E«ED Inspected Closed 

Classification index card cobbecteo: 





Form 4. Casualty Sheet (8i/2"xll") 

pletion of a general "complaint sheet" or "casualty sheet." The 
form serves as both a case sheet and a preliminary inNestigation re- 
l)ort. It is an effective means Avhereby your department gets com- 
plete reporting of all minor situations that are known, with the 
least amount of paper work. 


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Form 5. Miscellaneous Service Complaint (8"x5") (Front) 


O ^1 

Reporting the Case 123 


DETAILS: (Be brief but specific) 

Signed __ No. 

Date and Time 


Comments: — 

Approved — — Sgt. 

Date ^ — 

Form 5 

Form 5. Miscellaneous Service Complaint (Reverse) . 

The form is initiated by you as the complaint clerk; record 
the name, address, and telephone niunber of the complainant; 
case number; location of the incident; and date and time the com- 
plaint ^vas received; and then assign an officer to the investigation. 

The assigned officer, reports the condition as discovered in the 
investigation by checking the appropriate one of the 19 blocks on 
the far, left-hand, side of a form. On the back of the form, he lists 
the full name or names of the person or persons responsible for 
the incident; gives a brief but specific statement of the details of 
the investigation; signs the report; and records his badge number, 
time, and date. 

Chapter XIII 



.s STATED EARLIER, THE COMPLAINT clcrk has tlic responsibility 
for receiving information on complaints and completing the "case 
sheet." In addition, he assigns an officer to the case in order that an 
investigation may follo^v. At this point another important phase 
of the operational reporting process begins. 

Ustially, the clerk will assign the patrol officer upon ^vhose beat 
the offense occurred. If the time of the offense is unkno^vn, he will 
assign the officer or officers who covered the beat or patrol district 
during the hours when the offense probably occurred, ^\'hen de- 
partmental policy dictates that a particular case in its preliminary 
stages shall be assigned to the detective division or another special- 
ized division of the department, the clerk assigns the detective or 
other officer regularly assigned to such crimes as ^vell as the patrol 
officer in the area in ^vhich the crime occurred. 

Generally, the desk clerk relays the assignment to the com- 
numications staff, and it is the responsibility of a communications 
officer to notify the officer or officers who have been assigned to the 
investigation. The assignment may be made immediately by radio, 
telephone, or in person. Ho\vever, ^\'hen the assignment is not of 
an emergency nature, it may reach the assigned officer or officers 
through a daily bulletin, an assignment sheet, or through receipt 
of a copy of the case sheet itself. Regardless of the method by 
which the assignment is received, it is the responsibility of the in- 
vestigating officer or officers to report in detail all action taken. 

Most police departments prescribe a regular printed form for 
reporting the preliminary investigation. Some may call it a Preli- 
minary Investigation Report; others may label it a Crime Report. 
Except for the special forms provided for automobile and bicycle 
thefts, missing and wanted j)ers()ns, lost and found articles, and 
auto accidents, a general preliminary investigation report is re- 


Reporting Preliminary Investigation 125 


(2) , f3) 


(h) Where committed ^-^J- 


m RE.O.TEO B Cl^ 


Coilll^lTTED ^ 0"E ANO TIME RtPOflTED L121_ 

commi tte3 



■"■'"' (P\ „ (13) 




Person fl^) 

*'"'*"'"'(RACE, sex, AGe, TYPE OR OCCUPATICN-fibT NAM? 


(i^VlAT Was /litlM DOING AT TIVET 




Hair color 





Arrested? -. .^fe ^fl >]fti -1 OE..T ir icatiok No. 

Means of 


rafis (TR TOOLS u: 

Object of "tack^^^^^^ wAs TAtffN OR whV CCMSTfreDT 




WhaT did SUSPECT SAY' CZl) ARRESTED 7— T>f<-eff-N3T-"'"' '""" "" '^''• 


(IF AN AUTO.ALL AVAILABLE DESWIPTIVE INFORMATION ) UUifS'-S* *«? it ' °5esc''''''»;';;?^;f ^"1;°! '.HHIH* 


?r'0?::nTY stolsii: (25) 


FoRNr 6. Preliminary Investigation Report (Si^'xll"). 

125 Basic Police Report Writiui;^ 

quired of any officer or officers assigned to cases of violence, theft, 
and fraud. 


The general preliminary investigation report. Form 6, is by na- 
ture a "modus operandi" report. Modus operandi, literally trans- 
lated, means "method of operation." In police work, it is under- 
stood that the individual pecidiarities, methods, techniques, and 
tools used by the criminal in committing the crime are among the 
more significant facts which later may lead to his apprehension. 
The general preliminary investigation must reveal these charac- 

The principal theory upon which the "M.O. system" and the 
preliminary investigation report have been developed is that the 
criminal, like all human beings, is a creature of habit. A habit 
may be started intentionally or accidentally. After the thing has 
been done once, memory ^vill then assist and ^vi\\ determine 
whether or not the previous action will be repeated. Repetition 
will be influenced by the success or failure of the previous act, or 
the sensation of pleasure or displeasure which was incurred when 
it was committed. Generally, if a criminal on his first attempt at 
burglary has been successful in using a one-half inch pry bar on a 
rear bedroom windo^v, he is likely to continue using the same 
pry bar or one of similar dimension. If he is successful in commit- 
ting his crime dining early morning hours, if he gets enough 
money or other loot to satisfy his desires from the home of a minis- 
ter, he is likely to continue his burglaries during the same hours 
and to attack the homes of other ministers. His habits or his 
methods ^vill be influenced by the success or failure ^vhich he has 
in his operations. 

If you are the officer assigned to a preliminary investigation, 
the "M.O. system" of investigating and rejjorting a crime is one 
of the tools which you have to assist you in your duty. The pre- 
liminary investigation report with emphasis on method of oper- 
ation is the means whereby a particular burglar may be set apart 
from other burglars, a particular robber differentiated from other 

Reporting Preliminary hwestigation 127 

robbers, or ;i biiiuo operator or lutilicnis cliec k passer identified 
by his habits or methods. Thus, it is important that you under- 
stand the specific information which must be obtained during the 
preliminary investigation in order to prepare a report which em- 
phasizes the "modus oj)erandi" of the criminal. 

Report forms may \ary from department to department, 1)ut 
the "modus operandi" factors of this report are generally as set 
forth in the following outline: 

1. Time of attack— (or date and time committed) 

2. Person attacked 

3. Property attacked 

4. How attacked 

5. Means of attack 

6. Object of attack 

7. Trademark or pectiliarity 

8. What the criminal said 

9. Transportation used 

The preliminary investigation report also includes information 
which is not strictly a part of the criminals "modus operandi," 
such as physical description or description of stolen property 
which will be of value to you in identifying him for consideration 
as being responsibile for the crime. 

Careful completion of a well-arranged preliminary investiga- 
tion report is the best guide that you can get to assist you in cover- 
ing the various phases of the preliminary investigation. The infor- 
mation is arranged in suitable form for ready reference; and later 
analysis of the "mocUis operandi" information Avill often prove to 
be just the data you need in the solution of difficidt cases. 


Usually, the police department will provide that the printed 
preliminary investigation report shall be 8i/2"xir' in size. A form 
of this size offers no particular problems in filing and furnishes 
ample space for all information necessary to the preliminary in- 

Make a separate report, in duplicate, of eacli crime committed. 

128 Basic Police Report Writinir 

II multiple crimes are committed against one victim, you should 
make separate preliminary investigation reports for each crime. 
Howexer, if one crime is committed against more than one victim, 
only one report is required. 

An adequate preliminary investigation report shoidd ccMitain 
general administrative data as well as "modus operandi" informa- 
tion. In general, the administrative data which constitute the head- 
ing of the report include: (1) the name and location of the re- 
porting department, (2) type of crime, (3) report serial number, 
(4) name of the victim, (5) residence address of the victim, (6) 
telephone munber of the victim (both business and residence) , 
(7) date committed, (8) time committed, (9) ^vhere the crime 
was committed, (10) who reported the crime, (II) the address of 
the person ^vho reported the crime, (12) the date and time the 
crime was reported, (13) the person to whom the crime was re- 
ported and, (14) the name of the investigating officer or officers. 

The "modus operandi" information, names and descriptions 
of suspects, description of lost or stolen property, and the "details" 
of the crime investigation make up the body of the report. Admin- 
istrative data at the end of the reports are given in these numbered 
sections: (26) the signature of the officer reporting the informa- 
tion, and (27) the date and time the report was made. 


A detailed explanation of the various components of the re- 
port follo^vs. You will note that each part of the heading, body, 
and ending is labeled with an identifying number in the illustra- 
tion Form 6, and the corresponding number has been placed 
in parentheses after the title of each part in the text of the discus- 
sion. \Vhen you need to refresh your memory as to the require- 
ments of any part, turn to the illustration, check the number, and 
then turn to the text for the detailed explanation. 

Reporting Department (1) 

Note that the report form is so constructed that the name of 
the city and type of law enforcement agency appear in the heading. 
If the reporting agency is a sheriff's office, the name of the county 
should appear in the heading. 

Rcporlniij^ Ficlininidyy / nvr.sligdlion 129 

Type of Crime (2) 

On ihc line, "Type of Crime," you sliould sliow the offense 
toniiniitcd. In addition to citino- the particular code section in- 
volved, it is hclj)rid to include the usual name of the offense: for 
example. ■Sec. 2 1 1 PC— Robbery." Your classification of the type of 
crime should (onlorm to the facts of the as they appear in the 
body of the report, and the report shoidd reflect the necessary 
elements of the offense as defined in the law. 

Report Serial Number (3) 

The report serial number is the case number. Get it from the 
desk clerk, daily bulletin, or a duplicate copy of the case sheet. 
Remember that this number must be recorded correctly for the 
report to be "hooked up" with other reports relating to the same 
case, once the original copy reaches the records division. 

Name of the Victim (4) 

The victim is the injured party or the person who actually suf- 
fered the loss. The victim may be an indi\'idual or a business firm. 
If he is an individual, show the full name of that person. If a firm 
is the victim, place the name of the firm in this space, rather than 
the name of an employee who may represent the victim. 

For example, if a Standard Oil Company service station is bing- 
larized, and money or property belonging to the company is taken, 
the victim is the Standard Oil Company. If a robbery is committed 
against the manager or any employee of the same service station 
in which the company money or property is taken, the firm is the 
victim. When, in addition to company money or property, the per- 
sonal funds or property of an employee are taken, you should also 
name the employee as a victim. 

Thus, if more than one victim is involved in the same offense, 
the symbol, ■'\'#1," should precede the name written in this space; 
names, addresses, and telephone numbers of additional victims 
should be listed and indentified as "V#2," "V#.'^," etc., in the "de- 
tails" of the report. 

130 Basic Police Report Writing 

Residence Address (5) 

The line, "Residence Address," is intended to provide infor- 
mation as to where the victim may be located. This information is 
primarily for the use of your department, if it is necessary to com- 
municate with the victim later. 

If the victim is a firm, you should record the business address. 
When the victim firm has various branches or offices, the address 
listed should ordinarily be that of the branch or firm official in 
charge of the area for which your department is responsible. Some 
large firms maintain a security department whose representatives 
handle the reporting of offenses in which the company is victi- 
mized. In these instances you may give the address of the special 
agent or other person in charge of the firm's security or protection 

Telephone Numbers (6) 

If the victim is an individual, record both the residence and 
business phone numbers. When the victim is a business firm, list 
both the telephone number and extension at which the officer who 
represents the firm can be called. 

Date Committed (7) 

"Date Committed" means the day of the week, date of the 
month, and the year that the offense was committed, as "Wed., 
Nov. 7, 1959," or Wed., 11-7-59." If you do not know the precise 
date, the dates during which the crime occurred should be given 
as "between Wed., 11-7-59, and Sat., 11-10-59." When you include 
the day of the week you help in the making of a comparison of re- 
ports in a series of offenses. 

Time Committed (8) 

Report as accurately as possible the time the offense was com- 
mitted. If you don't kno^v the exact time the offense ^vas com- 
mitted, report the period during which the crime might have been 
committed, as "between 6:00 P.M and 9:00 P.M." 

Where Committed (9) 

If you are a member of a city police department, list the exact 
street address of the premises at ^vhich, or in front of which, the 

Reporting Freliniiuary Itwestigalioii 131 

offense was committed. A sheriff's office reporting an offense in a 
town or city will include not only the street address but also the 
n;mic ol ihe district or conununity. Report an offense committed 
in a rural area or on a highway witli reference to crossroads or other 
known landmarks. In addition to specific addresses, you will find 
it of value to describe the location of the premises by name as well 
as by street address, as: "the Cutter Rancli, Rt. 1, Box 6>'5, Folsom 
Blvd.," "City Hall, 1200 Berendo Blvd.," "City Clinic, 65 First 
St.," "Plaza Park, Ninth and S Streets." 

Reported By (10) 

On this line you should list the naine of the person who made 
the offense known to the department. Remember that in many 
cases the person who reported the incident is not the victim. If the 
report was made by the victim, it is necessary only to write "vic- 
tim" or the letter "V." When the report was made by an employee 
of a firm, indicate his relationship to the firm, as well as his name 
and address (11). 

Date and Time Reported (12) 

Here the date and time entry is self-explanatory. For example, 
state the time the report was made to the department as: "Nov. 7, 
1959, 2:46 P.M." or "11-7-59, 2:46 P.M." 

Reported To (13) 

In order that your department may have adecjuate information 
for future reference, it is desirable that you record the name of the 
officer who first received the report. In many cases this ^vill be the 
complaint clerk, but this is not necessarily true. Be certain as to 
\vho received the first report of the incident. 

Investigating Officer or Officers (14) 

Yoin- name and the names of other officers assigned to the case 
should be placed on this line. Some departments also require your 
badge number as a means of identification and for statistical pur- 
poses. In any event, later developments in the case may make it 
necessary for other persons in the department to get additional in- 
formation from you. 

132 Basic Police Report Writing 

Person Attacked (15) 

I'he lieadiii", "Person Attacked," is used because a criminal 
may habitually select persons ot a particular race, occupation, or 
class as his victims. In this space record the race, sex, age (exact 
age) , descent (if the victim is obviously of foreign descent) , and 
the victim's occu])ation or usual activity. When the person at- 
tacked is a juvenile, be especially careful in recording the age; 
this is necessary information since elements of some offenses de- 
pend upon the age of the victim. In addition, the qualifications of 
the victim as a ^vitness may depend on age. 

Remember that information in this space should reflect the 
type of person attacked, not the name of the person attacked. The 
person attacked may be a disabled veteran, a minister, a retired 
Chinese merchant, a high school girl, or a carpenter. You will 
want to record the descriptive information as, "white, female, 35, 
German, school teacher," or "WF35, German, school teacher." 
Another example might be "Negro, female, juvenile, high school 
student, 15 years," or condensed to "NFJ (15), high school stu- 

Don't forget the fact that a criminal may select a particular per- 
son to attack because of the activity of the victim at the time of the 
offense. For this reason space is provided for a brief note on the 
line titled, "What was the victim doing at the time (of offense) ?" 

Property Attacked (16) 

In this space describe the place or type of premises at ^\'hich 
the offense u'as committed e.g., "one-story, five-room, frame dwel- 
ling" or "two-story, eight-room brick residence," "one-room, tank 
house, rural area," "railroad refrigerator car on packing hotise 
siding," "drug store, outlying business district." 

When a building is used for a number of purposes, first specify 
the particular purpose for which the room where the offense oc- 
curred is tised. Then describe the general use of the building, such 
as, "retail grocery, on main floor of apartment house," "dentist's 
office, on second floor of office building," "physician's office, on 
first floor of two-story residence," "airline ticket office in hotel 

/{('I>(>) liiiii l')('liiiiiii(ir\ f iivr.sli'j^dtion 133 

In .icltliiion lo icpoiiin^ ilic kiiul ol jMciniscs wlicic ihc oUcnsc 
took place, it may l)c' ol xaliic to describe tlie general character of 
the area or (listri(t where the otteiise occurred. Ihis is es]K( ially 
true when the neighl^orhood has any outstanding ( harac teristi( s. 
Later analysis ol; these data may prove \aluable in coiniecting 
the crime with a series of crimes. Examples of this tyjje of inlorma- 
tion are: "industrial district," "Chinese business district," "ex- 
clusive residential area," or "packing house district." 

Let us assinne that you are rejjorting a raj^e which occ mred in 
front of an apartment house tenanted by Negroes in a Mexican 
district. The "property attacked" shoidd be described like this: 
"street in front of Negro apartment house, Mexican district." 
Thus, you Avill note that, for reporting purpcjses, a side\\'alk, high- 
Avay, street, \acant lot, or field may be the "property attacked." 

How Attacked (17) 

What you should record in the "hoAV attacked" space is deter- 
mined by the type of crime which you are reporting. In offenses 
other than burglary, present a general outline of the manner in 
which the offense was committed. For example, in robberies you 
shoidd show what induced the victim to surrender his property. 
Thus, in these types of cases the "how attacked" may be "beating," 
"choking," "drugging," "bound and gagged," "accosted from be- 
hind," etc. 

In sex crimes this factor may include "enticement by offering 
money," "exhibiting lewd photographs," or "offering a ride." 

If your case is an ordinary theft, the best w^ay to describe "how 
attacked" is to state specifically where the theft took place, as "tak- 
ino' from basement of residence," "taking from clothes line," tak- 
ing from mail box," etc. 

In reporting binglaries you should include reference to the 
j3oiiu of entry and the manner by which entry was made. State 
the location of the door, Avindow, or other place of entry and the 
Hoor on which entry was made. This might be "prying rear 
kite hen door, fiist floor," "breaking glass, side window of. base- 
meiH," or "sawing hole through ceiling." 

If a safe was binglarized, the "how attacked" also mtist include 
how the safe was attacked. For example, the safe might be attacked 

134 Basic Police Report Writing 

by "drilling," ■"blowing," "pounding," "punching," "burning," 
"peeling," or some other method. Remember to specify the part 
of the safe that was attacked. 

In fraudulent check cases the how attacked" may be "forged 
signature of a prominent person," or "counterfeited company pay 
roll check." 

The "how attacked" of a bunco artist may be "begins conver- 
sation with victim by asking time of day," "introduces #2S to vic- 
tim as prominent person," or "inserts advertisement in news- 
paper." In any event, when you are reporting a bunco case it is 
most helpful to record a detailed step-by-step account of the tran- 
saction as it was told by the victim and to report how^ the first con- 
tact was made with the victim, particularly the approach. 

Means of Attack (18) 

The "means of attack" involves a brief description of any in- 
strument, tools, or other equipment used in the commission of 
the crime. For example, in fictitious check cases the means of at- 
tack might be a "hand-^vritten, protectographed check, rubber 
stamped with a fictitious firm name." 

In burglaries, the "means of attack" is a description of the tools 
used. If possible, you should describe the tools in detail. A careful 
examination of the tool marks and other conditions at the point of 
entry will help you to do this. Obviously, describing the instru- 
ment used as a "hexagonal shank w-recking bar," "offset auto jack 
handle," or a "flat bladed box opener" is more effective than des- 
cribing it as a "prying instrument." Remember to note any oddi- 
ties or peculiarities of the tools used, as observed from the marks 
left at the scene. 

Depending upon the type of case, the "means of attack" may 
be a revolver, club, wrecking bar, rope, hook and line, glass cutter, 
bolt cutter, or safe combination puller. In fact, in some cases the 
means may be something other than a physical object, such as 
'bodily force," "climbing," "wearing," "opening," or "carrying 

Safe burglaries offer the most complicated situation because 
they involve two "means of attack" (as well as two "ho^v attacked" 

Reportiuiy PreUminary hwestiii^ation 135 

as nicntionccl previously) . L he first "means of atta( k" is the tools 
used to gain entry to the premises, and the second is the instru- 
ments or tools used to attack the safe. 

In armed robbery cases give the best possible description of the 
weapon used. If the victim is able to distinguish the caliber, give 
the size of the gun as well as the color or finish and whether it was 
a revolver or automatic. 

In false pretense, trick and device, or bimco cases describe the 
instruments used in the scheme which induced the victim to part 
with his money or property, as "marked cards," "loaded dice," 
"money making machine," or "fictitious title to property." 

Object of Attack (19) 

The "object of attack" is the reason the offense was coiumitted 
or attempted. WHien property was taken by theft, burglary, fraud, 
or robbery, the "object of attack" is the type of property taken. 
Be specific in reporting the type of property as, "money and jew- 
elry," "women's clothing," "silverware," "cigarettes," "narcotics," 
etc. Don't attempt to give a description of the property; this infor- 
mation should be reported later in the narrative section of the re- 

In crimes against the person, the "object of attack" is usually 
the motive of the crime such as "ransom," or "revenge." Yet, in 
many homicide cases the motive may be "robbery" or "rape;" in 
most sex offenses the object of attack is "sexual gratification." 

Trademark or Peculiarity (20) 

The "trademark" or peculiarity is one of the more important 
modus operandi factors that you should discover. These facts will 
assist you in identifying the responsible person and setting him 
apart from other offenders who are committing crimes of the same 
general type. 

"Trademarks" may serve to indicate a specific biuglar ;vho has 
his own peculiar habits which he foUoAvs in his particular crime 
and which set him apart from other burglars currently operating. 
His trademark may be louiid in the criminal act itself or in some 
act which has no connection with the actual crime. It luay be some 

136 Basic Police Report Writing 

outstanding but deliberate action taken by the criminal or some- 
thing Avhich reflects a personal or subconscious habit. 

While committing a burglary, one offender may turn on the 
house lights; others may burn matches or use flashlights. Some 
lower the ^\'indo^\■ shades; others do not. Some take time to eat 
while they are on the premises; others may carry food aAvay ^vith 
them. In gaining entry some burglars merely tear the screens and 
open them enough to get in; others may cut neat holes and care- 
fully remove the screens, leaving them alongside the u•indo^^'. 
There are "party burglars," "daylight burglars," and "barefoot 
burglars." Each of these may exhibit a great variety of technicjues 
and peculiarities. 

During the commission of a crime some offenders may perform 
sadistic or perverted acts \vhich establish their trademarks. These 
acts may range from scattering face poAvder through the house to 
stealing women's undergarments, defecating on the premises, or 
performing acts of mutilation in the commission of assaults, rapes, 
or murders. In general, the more unusual the trademark the greater 
the assistance in identifying the offender. Diligent in\'estigation 
should indicate some trademark in almost any offense. \V^hen you 
find it and record it, your report takes on real meaning. 

What Did Suspect Say? (21) 

In reporting any offense in which the victim or a witness sa^v 
the criminal, you should pay particular attention to ^vhat the 
criminal said, as w^ell as his physical description. He may mispro- 
nounce a word or use a imique expression, mannerism, technique, 
or accent ^vhich \vill aid in his identification. Speech habits seldom 
change, especially while the criminal is under tension. Such com- 
ments as "get'em up," "111 blow your guts out," "reach," "this 
is a stick up," may become an unconscious characteristic of the 
criminal's method of operation. Take care to report the actual 
words used, not the ^'ictim's or the witness' paraphrase of ^\ hat ^^'as 

Transportation Used (22) 

If an automol)ile ^sas used in the crime, report the model, 
make, body style, color, license nimiber, and any peculiarities such 

Reporliiiij; Prcliiniuary hivrs(ii!;atii)» 137 

as accessories or damaged jKuts. Tlie transportation used is very 
important, and you should be interested in recording as iniu li in- 
formation as possible about the metliod of travel used by the ( rimi- 
nal in arrivin,t> at or leaving the scene, or the method he used to 
transport stolen j)roperty. 

Suspect (23) 

You will note that space is jhox ided on the form h)r names and 
descriptions of two suspects; shoidd there be additional offenders 
in the case, list them in the "details" section of the form. When the 
suspect or suspects have been arrested prior to the submission of 
your report or on other occasions, it is helpful to include identifi- 
cation numbers in the space provided. This type of notation makes 
it easy to connect the preliminary investigation report to finger- 
prints or other identification data which have come or later may 
come to the department. 

If an arrest is made before you submit your report, you should 
give a description of the suspect in as much detail as possible; even 
partial descriptions are valuable when they are compared Avith 
descriptions given in other reports. If possible, complete every 
descriptive item on the form. When you have additional identify- 
ing information, include it in the "details" of the report. A com- 
plete description for purposes of the preliminary investigation re- 
port should include: 

1. Name, nickname, aliases, if known (If the suspect 
is a woman record her given name, maiden name, 
and married name) 

2. Color of hair (if bald, note the type of baldness) (if 
the suspect is a woman, note any artificial hair color- 

3. Complexion 

4. Color of eyes; glasses and ty}je of glasses 

5. Height 

6. Weight and build 

7. Age (known and aj)|)arent) 

8. Occupation (vocation and axocation) 

9. Race (\\hite, yellow, brown, etc.) 

138 Basic Police Report Writing 

10. Nativity (pl^ce of birth) 

11. Any peculiarities (speech, etc.) 

12. Mannerisms ( (that may be noticeable) 

13. Marks and scars 

14. Amputations 

15. Teeth (missing, false, gold, etc.) 

16. Dress, habits 

17. Education 

18. Relatives and friends (names and addresses) 

19. Home town, prior addresses 

20. Identification number 

Details of the Crime (24) 

The items previously described give you, in brief, the adminis- 
trative data and modus operandi information necessary to the re- 
port. On the lower part of the report form give in narrative style 
the story of the offense and its investigation. Use the back of the 
form, from bottom to the top, and additional clean full sheets of 
paper, if necessary. 

You will note in completing the upper part of the form, 
you have furnished all the information usually included in the in- 
troductory paragraph of a narrative report, but you will need to 
summarize this information in the "details" of the report. 

Your first paragraph should present the details of the com- 
plaint. Present your authority for conducting the investigation in 
the second paragraph. In subsequent paragraphs present the de- 
tails of the investigation in the same chronological order as the 
facts were discovered. Be clear, complete, concise, and accurate. 
Observe all of the mechanical rules as they apply to narratixe ^vrit- 
ing. Also see Chapter XVI for additional rules applicable to "De- 
tails" sections of both preliminary and supplementary reports. The 
folloAving is an example of proper form and content of the "Details" 
section of the report: 


(1) 11:18 P.M., 8-5-59, complainant Dr. ALBERT E. BROWN of 
461 Hunter Drive, FI 9-2446. called by telephone reporting that his 
office at 527 Hahn Medical Bldg., 609 S. Summer St. had been burglar- 

Reporting Preliininnry Investigatiofi 139 

i/icl. X'ictim stattil tli;it narcotic prescription forms and niorpliiiie 
tahkis had I)C'cn taken. 

(2) 1 1 :20 P.M. Officers J. M. JONES and R. R. ADAMS were assigned 
by radio to the investigation. 

(3) 11:28 P.M.. 8-5-59, reporting officers met "V" at the scene. A side 
door of the suite had been jimmied by what appears to be a I1/2" 
jimmy bar with a "Y" shaped notch in the blade. V stated that four 
tubes of morphine tablets taken from a cabinet in the treatment room 
and state narcotic prescription forms were the only articles taken. A 
valuable watch, which had been left on a desk in V's office near the 
prescription forms, was not taken. The condition of the office indicated 
that the suite had been thoroughly searched, but it was left in neat 

(4) 11:50 P.M. Technicians R. E. BURT and J. M. HALL were cal- 
led and obtained three latent fingerprint impressions on the top of 
"V's" desk; photographs of the jimmy marks were taken. A cast was 
also made of the tool marks. 

(5) 12:15 A.M. 8-6-59, Reporting officers contacted the night janitor, 
JOSEPH (nmi) JONES, 5723 Central Ave., DR 6-3551. He stated 
that he had seen the above described S#l in the building lobby com- 
ing downstairs about 8:00 P.M. 

(6) Photos of latent fingerprints and tool marks are on file in the 
crime laboratory. 

Note that each paragraph is given a number. This facilitates 
easy cross reference to an entire paragraph later in the report or in 
subsequent reports. Each chronological step begins with the time 
and date. 

Description of Property (25) 

Follow the "details" of the report with a complete description 
of all lost or stolen property. A minimum description of an article 
listed in the preliminary investigation report should cover: (1) 
the quantity of article, (2) kind of article, (3) physical description 
(model, style, design, shape, size) , (4) material (gold, silver, wool, 
etc.) , (5) color, (6) condition (include age) , and (7) value. (See 
Appendix C for detailed explanation) . 

Jn addition to the above descriptive items, many articles can 

140 Basic Police Report Writing 

be lurther and more accurately described as having trade names, 
identifying numbers or marks, and initials. 

If you describe a number of articles, precede the description of 
each kind of property with an item number. When you do this, 
later reference to the property can be made by item number in- 
stead of having to pick it out from a lengthy list. The following 
is an example of a correct property entry: 


1. State narcotic prescription forms #11723 to 111728 . .n.v. 

2. (4) tubes Squibb's taljlets, morphine sulphate, 14 gr., 
containing 20 tablets each $6.50 

Signature (26) 

Place your signature at the very end of your report. If you are 
working with a partner, get him to sign the report. 

Date and Time of Report (27) 

As a final entry, give the date and time you completed the re- 

Rcporliug Freli/iiiuayy hwestigation 




TYPE If CRl'/l 

7296 y* 


'!"'.-Mi. Alh*"-^- K- Ri-own. M.D. 
".aliri: " ^61 Hunter DrlTe 

A09 ?. 5i.m.n>ir St. 

FI 9-3546 

cwiiTco Aug. ft, 1959, Titeaday 

loMMiTteo Pfit.wnBn S P M. and 11 P.M. 




D.r. «o r,« .c>o.,» Aug S. 1959. n;1S P.M. 
RE,„Teo TO Pfl s k-Sgt . T . T ,. . Inna a 


B>iford Whlta 

PeasoN uuA 

ATTAOC O. "J**. 

'" (RACE.SP< 

v<rt.-im was not op pranlHaa; wa at hla hom9„ — Malfl descent MMdca n 

''"""""'Office, 5 rm. s uite, doctor's. In 




ft-jiti^ry phy■q^r■^ana' office bldg. 

JTT.C.C3 Prying aide door of suite on 

5th flwr 

rjAn>i.'3CAn ; 2" 3c . rt. cheekbonc 
^fpre long aidebuma _- 


"V" ahaped notch on e nd 


Ouss^.si o» .. . "T<- 8hirtr '^'^^^ <^" g°rd rants; 
no coat, no iiat.,, 
"^ (ves Off NO T 

Narcotica (morphin e su lpha te )„..„ 


OSJCCT OF »tTAC«-rafgY' 

T,.ot -».. OR >ccui.i....Ty Joolt foraa fron — 
different positions in book; did not 

t.akfl a imtch 




ARRtiTtoI 7fs-C(rSCT— ' 


IF AN AVAILABLE DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION » tifl.fS'SJ 5°'"<1°;* 8''H''i!'i!f "f ^'••''"S'J^ J' * 


(1) lli23 P.M., 8-5-59, complainant. Dr. ALBERT E. BROflJ of 46I Hunter Drive, 

FI 9-2546, called by telephone reporting that his office at 527 Hahn Medical Bldg. , 
609 SvtnnEr St., had been burglarized. Victim stated that narcotic prescription 
forms and morphine tablets had been taken. 

(2) 11:20 P.M., Officer BUPCHD WHITE assigned by radio to the investigation. 


142 Basic Police Report Writijig 

Case #729654 

(3) 11:23 P.M., reporting officer met "V" at the scene. A side door of the 
suite had been jiaunied by what appears to be a 1^" jiinny bar with a "V" shaped 
notch in the blade. "V" stated that four tubes of morphine tablets taken from a 
cabinet in the treatment room and state narcotic prescription forms were the only- 
articles Ukan. A valuable watch, which had been left on a desk in "V's" office 
near the prescription forms, was not taken. The condition of the office indi- 
cated that the suite had been thoroughly searched, but it was left in neat order. 

(k) 11:50 P.M., Technicians R. E. BIET and <J. '■;• HALL were called and obtained 
three latent fingerprint impressions on the top of "V's" desk; photographs of the 
Jinrny marks were taken. A cast was also made of the tool marks. 

(5) 12:15 P.K., 8-6-59, reporting officer contacted the night janitor, JOSEPH 
(nmi) JONES, 5723 Central Ave., DR 6-3551- He stated that he had seen the above- 
described S #1 in the building lobby coming downstairs about 8 P.M. 

(6) Photos of latent fingerprints and tool marks are on file in the crime 


1. State narcotic prescription forms # 11723 to 11723. n.v. 

2. iU) tubes Squibb's tablets, morphine sulphate, i gr., containing 20 
tablets each $6.50. 

Officer Buford White 
8-6-59, 2 A.M. 

Chapter XIV 




N REPORTING THE PRELIMINARY investigation in certain kinds of 
cases, the nature of the desired information is such that the general 
preliminary in\estigation report is not appropriate or will not 
suffice. This is true when there is need to report wanted persons; 
missing persons; lost, found, or stolen bicycles; stolen automobiles; 
traffic accidents; and a number of other miscellaneous incidents 
or complaints. Most police agencies provide special preliminary 
investigation report forms to facilitate reporting in these kinds of 
cases. This chapter deals with several special preliminary investi- 
gation report forms and the problems involved in completing 


During the course of police business the need for recording in- 
formation on wanted and missing persons frequently arises. When 
this happens, the general preliminary investigation report proves 
not only inadequate in providing the necessary special information 
but ineffective as a means of communicating to officers in the field. 
Most police agencies use separate "wanted persons" and "missing 
persons" forms; but, since the information can be presented ef- 
fectively and economically in a single form, a combined form is 
presented in this discussion (See Form 7) . 

Who Prepares the Persons Wanted and Missing Report? 

The responsibility for preparation of the form varies, depend- 
ing upon the type of information that is recorded and the stage of 
the investigation at which the need arises. Oftentimes the com- 
plaint clerk will complete the form; at other times the report is a 
responsibility of an investigating officer. 

If your department follo\\ s the policy of completing case sheets 



Basic Police Report Writing 

on persons wanted outside of your jurisdiction and maintains 
cross-index information on these "wants," the report is a re- 
sponsibility of the complaint clerk. Likewise, he is responsibile 
for the "missing persons report" Aviien the information is received 
through a complainant other than a member of the department. 

Tnis forni not to be used tor mailing 


















..Warrant Q Suspicion D Information Only □ 

F- P- C f 7) 

Prev. Bee ^°^ 



MARK (9) continued 

MANNERISMS: Gesllcul.les w„h h.nd. v,hen l.lkin,: I.Ik, ou( 

side 01 moulh: wears hat on side oj head; elc.) 


Gun used (describe) 
Auto used (describe) 
Other means (describe) 





GENERAL REMARKS: (Ces-lbe hangouls, recreational habils, e. q. ficquems puWlc fyiy 

dance halls, races, prizeliqhts, wieslling bouts, etc.l ^ ' 



Any person havinc information which mav assist in locatin 
this person is requested to notify imcdiatcly the 

Copies By 

Date TIME 

Radio No > 

Oil]: to repoit. Dup. and trip, to squad im: iilet: quad lo deleclivea. 

Form 7. Person Wanted— Missing Report (SiV'xll"). 

special Pyclini i ikdx / nrcstiij^dliijii licf)())ts 145 

Oil the other hand, the need lor the report olteii dexelops diirin.o 
the course of an investigation: in sue h eases the reporting responsi- 
bility rests with the investigating ofiicer. 

When Should the Report Be Prepared? 

Unless the situation is an emergency, complete the "Persons 
Wanted and Missing Report" as soon as you receive the informa- 
tion. It immediate action is necessary, relay the data to the dis- 
patcher and complete your report later. 

How Many Copies? 

Make the report in triplicate. The original should be attached 
to your general preliminary investigation report, if you are the in- 
vestigating officer; if you are the complaint clerk, forward it to the 
records division. The duplicate must be filed on arch files or clip 
boards in the squad room, and the triplicate is sent to the detective 
division to be used by detectives in further investigation of the 

How Many "Persons Wanted and Missing Reports" Are Made? 

Make one "Persons Wanted and Missing Report" for each per- 
son wanted or missing. If two or more persons are missing or 
wanted in the case, do not attempt to report them on the same 
form. The report is designed to identify the person and (in cases 
involving wanted persons) the method of operation of the crimi- 
nal and the crime for which he is Avanted. When information on 
two or more persons is included in the same report, it becomes 
confused and wortidess. 

Specific Content of the Report 

Since the report is utilized for Ijoth wanted and missing per- 
sons, "X" oiu the inappropriate word in the heading. 

Wanted By (1). Insert the name of your department or the di- 
vision investigating the case. 

Report Number (2). The "Report Number" is the case or 
serial number. Obtain this number from the general preliminary 
investigation report or from the complaint clerk. 

146 Basic Police Report Writing 

Crime (3). The '"Crime" applies only to wanted persons. Re- 
cord the crime as reported on the case sheet or the general prelimi- 
nary in\estigation report, and /or check the additional and ap- 
projiriate space on the same line. 

Name (4). Give the lull name of the person wanted or missing. 
It you don't know the name, write "Unknown." 

Address (5). Include the complete address of the ^vanted or 
missing person, if possible. 

Aliases (6). Insert all other names that the person uses or by 
which he is known. 

F. P. C. (7). "F.P.C." means the fingerprint classification. Ob- 
tain this information from the records division and place it in the 
appropriate space. 

Previous Record (8). At the same time, obtain and enter a 
summary of tiie subject's previous criminal record. 

Personal Description (9). The personal description, one of 
the more important parts of the report, include descriptive infor- 
mation regarding the subject's hair, eyes, height, weight, age, 
nationality, build, complexion, dress, occupation, marks, manner- 
isms, accomplices, and friends. See the "Personal Description 
Sheet," Form 44 of this manual, for detailed information. 

Modus Operandi Information (10). Since the method of ope- 
ration of the criminal is significant in cases involving ^vanted per- 
sons, include the person attacked, property attacked, means of 
attack, time of attack, transportation used, object of attack, and 
trademark, as obtained from the general preliminary investigation 
report or the records division. A detailed explanation of these 
modus operandi factors is contained in the discussion of the general 
preliminary investigation report. Chapter XIII of this manual. 

General Remarks (11). The "General Remarks" section is 
provided in order that you may include other information essen- 
tial to the report \vhich is not called for elsewhere. In this section 
describe hangouts and recreational habits of the subject and state 
whether or not a \varrant has been issued for the arrest of a wanted 

Photograph (12). If available, a "mug shot" of the wanted or 
missing person \vill be attached to the report in the records divi- 

special Prrliiniiuny I iii'cstiii^dlio}! Reports 147 

Closing Data (13). Ihc ■Closint; Data" scctuMi pioxiclcs spate 
for you to record the number ol copies of the report, your signa- 
ture, the (late and time the report was made, and the racHo (Hs- 
patc h niind)er. 


Like the "Persons Wanted and Missino Report," the "Bicycle 
Rej:)ort," Form 8, is a special type ot preliminary investioation re- 
port. Here, a single form provides for adequate reporting of stolen, 
lost, or found bicycles. Persons who report stolen, lost, or found 
bicycles usually call by telephcme or appear in person at head- 
quarters. Thus, the complaint clerk prepares the comjjlaint sheet 
and assigns an oHicer to conduct tlie investigation. If you are the 
assigned officer, it is your responsibility to record the investigation 
on the "Bicycle Report." Make the report in triplicate; forward 
the original to the records division, the duplicate to the squad 
room, and the triplicate to the appropriate iniit in the detective 
division. Prepare one "Bicycle Report" for each bicycle stolen, lost, 
or found. Check the appropriate box on the form as "Stolen," 
"Lost," or "Found" and enter the case number in the "Report 
Xuinber" space. 

Victim (1). List the full name of the victim. Remember that 
the victim may be someone other than the person who reported 
the bicycle. The owner of the bicycle is the \ ictim. Gi\e his com- 
plete address and telephone number, if possible. 

Date Committed (2). Record the exact day of the month that 
the incident occurred. 

Time Committed (3). State the hour that the incident (hciu- 
red, as nearly as possible. 

Day of Week (4). Gi\e the day of the ^veek that the incident 
occurred as Mon., Tues., Wed.. Thin\, Fri., Sat., or Sun. 

Where Committed (5). When the complainant alleges that 
the incident cjccurred in a city or incorporated town, write the 
word "City" on the "W^here Committed" space. 

Name of Premises and Address (6). When the complainant al- 
leges that the inc ident occurred at a place of business, record the 
name of the business. If the incident is alleged to have occurred 
in a city c^r incorporated town, give the exact street and building 


Basic Folic e Report Writing 






Res. Address 

W'liere committed and/or 

Name of premises and address (6) . 

Date Committed . 

Time Connnitted 

Day of Week (4) 


Reported by 

Bt Date and time reported 



License No. 

Description of Bicycle (10) 
(Yr) B.P.D. No Factory No. 

Standard weight frame? . 

Color of frame 

Locked? Any identifying marks or pecidiarities? 

TYPE: Girls Boys Dbl. Bar _ Single Bar 

Light weight frame? . . ^Vheel Size? 

Color of trim . . . Color of fenders 


Record Bureau 
Bicycle Bureau 
Slate Bureau 
Stiuadroom File 


Date and Time 



Form 8. Bicycle Report (8i ;,"xH") . 

Sj)C( ml I'rcl/ni iiHiyy I nT'Csliij^nlioii Hcpoils 1 1!) 

luiinbcrs. II ilic iiu idem is alleged lo lia\c otcinicd in a iiiial area, 
cstahlisli its location by nsin<> laniiliar landmarks. 

Reported By (7). State tlie lull name ol the j)ers<)n who origi- 
nally reported the matter to your dejjartment. The name ol this 
person is more imjjortant than the name ol the ollicer or eomplaint 
clerk who relayed the comjjlaint to you. 

Address (8). Give the complete address of the person who re- 
ported the inc idem lo your department. 

Date {Did Time Reported (9). State the hour, day, month, and 
year that the iiu ident was reported to your department. 

Descriptioti of Bicycle (10). Like the personal description in 
the "Persons Wanted and Missing Report," the description ot the 
bicycle is one of the more important parts of the report. Be ex- 
tremely carefid in reporting the information; these are the only 
data by which the property later will be identified. Include the 
license ninriber and year of the license, departmental registration 
number, and factory number. Give the make, type of bicycle, 
wheel size, and color of the frame, trim, and fenders. Indicate the 
weight of the frame as "standard" or "light ^veight," and state 
^vhether the bicycle was locked or unlocked. Ample space also is 
provided for indicating identifying marks and pecidiarities such 
as accessories, damaged parts, dents, and scratches. 

Officer's Report (11). The "Officer's Report" section prox ides 
space for recording the details of the in\'estigation. Follow the same 
general pattern in completing this section as you would in \\riting 
the "Details" section of a general preliminary investigation re- 
port. Let your first paragraph contain the details of the comjjlaint, 
the second paragraph state your authority for conducting the in- 
vestigation. Present each sid^secjuent investigative step in a sepa- 
rate paragrajih and in chronological order. 

Closing Data (12). To complete the closing data, sign the re- 
port, enter your badge number, record the date and time that you 
completed the report, and check the apjjropriate distribution of 
tlie various copies. 


As stated earlier, the theft cjf an automobile requires the re- 
porting of specialized information. Almost luiiversally, police de- 

150 Basic Police Report Writing 

pai tinents h;i\e established a special type of preliminary report for 
this jjurpose. So, if you are assigned to investigate an auto theft, 
yon should complete the required form rather than the general 
preliminary investigation report form. Use the "Auto Theft Re- 
port," Form 9, to report the theft of automobiles, trucks, motor- 
cycles, and motor scooters. Even joy-ride thefts are classified as auto 
thefts. Always remember to make the report in duplicate, or three 
or more copies if your department plans court action in the case. 

Content of the Face of the Form 

The face of the Auto Theft Report contains headings as fol- 
lows: (1) complainant, (2) address and phone numbers (of the 
complainant) , (3) case ntnnber, (4) reported by, (5) report he- 
ceived by, (6) stolen from, (7) make, (8) motor nimiber, (9) de- 
partments notified, (10) value, (11) remarks, (12) approved by, 
(13) recovered by, (14) where recovered, (15) owner notified by, 
(16) other departments notified, (17) condition of car, (18) 
status of the case— unfounded, cleared by arrest, exceptionally 
cleared, or inactive, and (19) your signature and the signature of 
your commanding officer. 

Complainant (1). Like the complainant on the General Pre- 
liminary Investigation Report, the complainant on the Auto Theft 
Report will, at tiines, be different from the complainant on the 
Case Sheet. (See the explanation given under General Preliminary 
Investigation Report.) 

Address and Phone Numbers (2). Give the address of the com- 
plainant, including number, street, city, state, and phone num- 

Case Number (3). Insert the case nimiber as it appears on the 
case sheet. 

Reported By (4). Give the name of the complainant as it ap- 
pears on the case sheet, along ^vith the complete address of the 

Report Received By (5). State the name of the officer ^vho re- 
cei\cd tiie original report; include the time and date received and 
ho\v the theft ^vas reported— "phone," "letter," "in person," or "on 

S{)('(iiil l')cliini)i(ny I nvcsllii^ntio)! Reports 



C^omijlainaiil - 
Local Address . 
OtllCT Atlilicss 
RcnoiU'd Ii\ _ 



Rcpoi I Received By (5) At _ 

Stolen Fi oiii . (6) — 

Make (7) Style 

Motor No (8) Color 

Depts. Notified (9). 



.Case No. 



M. Date 

19 How Reported 

Date and Time 




_ Date and Time 

Value (10), 

Approved H\ 


Recovered By 

^\'here Recovered 

Owner Nolilied liv 

OlJRi Dcpts. Nolilied 

Condition of Car 

Unfounded (18) 

Cleared By Arrest 
Excei)lionali\ (Mearocl 
Inactive (not cleared) 





Date and I ime 
Date and I ime 
Dale and lime 
Dale and I ime 



Investigating Officer 
Signed Date 

Conunanding Officer 


lorm 9— pp 178 

1-oKM 9. .Auto Tlult Report (8ii,"xll") (Front) 


Basic PoIkc Report \\'>ili)io 


No. 1 

No. 2 






Color. Sex, Age 

Height, Weight 

Color, Sex, Age 




Dress and Other Marks 

Why Suspected or Wanted | 

Remarks: (2) 

Persons Arrested 
Persons .Arrested _ 
Remarks: (4) 

Form !'— pp 179 


.Arrest No. . 
.Arrest No. 

FoR>r 9. .Auto Theft Report (Reverse) 

special Preliinl)i(iy\ hii'C.sti^a^ation Reports 153 

Stolen From (6). C.i\f the location lioiii wliitli the \clii( Ic was 
stolen iiu lii(lin,!4 mnnhci, street, city, and state. Record tlie date 
and time the vehicle was stolen. 

Make (7). Record the make, year and body style: and license 
information iiu liidin;; the year, state, and license ninnber. For ex- 
ample, •1958, Buick, 4 door; 1959, California, BPY-441." 

Motor Number (8). C;i\e the engine nnmher, serial nnmber, 
or both; color of the automobile; and the lumd^er of cylinders. 

Departments Notified (9). Name other i)olice departments that 
were notified of the theft, givin" the date and time of the notifica- 

Value (10). (•i\e your estimated \alue of the stolen vehicle as 
determined by the owner or your own knowledge. 

Remarks (11). Present a brief summary of the details of the 
theft as reported by the complainant. Include other descrijjtive 
data that may help to identify the vehicle. 

Approved By (12). This line is for the signature of your com- 
manding officer. 

Recovered By (13). Give the name of the officer who recovered 
the \ehicle if it was recovered within your jurisdiction. If the 
\ehicle ^\•as recovered outside the jurisdiction, give tlie name of the 
dejjartment that recovered it. Include the date and time recovered. 

Where Recovered (14). If the vehicle was recovered in the 
city, gi\e the exact address. If it was recovered outside the city, 
give the name of the city and state. 

Owner Notified By (15). Give the name of the officer ^vho noti- 
fied the owner of the reco\ery. Include the date and time the owner 
was notified. 

Other Departments Notified (16). Inscii the names of other 
law enforcement agencies that were notified of the recovery. (This 
should be the same as section 9.) 

Condition of the Car (17). State the condition of the car at 
the time it was recovered— ■■damaged." "'undamaged," "stripped," 

Status of the Case (Mark with "X") (18). Mark the case as 
"rnfoiinded," "Cleared by Arrest," ""ExceiMionally Cleared." or 

154 Basic Police Report Writing 

"Inactive (not cleared.") Classify the case as "Unfounded" when 
your investigation reveals that there is no truth in the allegations 
of the complainant. Mark the case "Cleared by Arrest" when one 
or more persons have been arrested and charged with committing 
the offense. Classify the case as "Exceptionally Cleared" when the 
vehicle has been recovered without apprehension of the suspect, or 
in "joy-ride" thefts when no prosecution results even though the 
person who took the vehicle is apprehended. The case becomes 
"Inactive" Avhen the statute of limitations takes effect. 

Your Signature and Signature of Commanding Officer (19). 
After a recovery, you and your commanding officer should sign 
the report, indicating the recovery. Be sure that all copies are 

Content of the Reverse Side of the Form 

The reverse side of the Auto Theft Report contains space for: 
(1) description of suspects or persons w'anted, (2) remarks con- 
cerning suspects or persons wanted, (3) persons arrested (and 
arrest niunbers) , and (4) remarks concerning persons arrested. 

Description of Suspects or Persons Wanted (1). The follow- 
ing data are essential for a complete description of suspects or per- 
sons ^vanted: 

A. Name:Gi\e Uie full name, if possible. 

B. Alias: Give any other names or nicknames that the suspect may 
be known by. 

C. Address: Give the number, street, city, and state of the suspect. 

D. Color, Sex, Age: Example: White male, 25 yrs. of age. 

E. Height, Weight: Example: 57", 190 lbs. 

F. Color Eyes, Hair, Complexion: Example: Blue eyes, dark brown, 
wavy hair; rtiddy complexion. 

G. Beard: Give color, state whether heavy, light, clean shaven, 
mustache, etc. 

H. Xatiinty: Give the date and place of birth and nationality of the 
suspect. Example: 1-2-03; Chicago, Illinois; Italian. 

I. Occupation: State the type of employment the suspect usually 
performs. Examples: Cook, waiter, auto mechanic, carpenter, 

J. Dress and Other Marks: Describe what the suspect was wearing, 
also any visible jewelry, scars, tattoos, etc. Example: Felt hat, 
grey; brown suede jacket; white shirt; brown trousers: brown 
shoes: yellow gold ring— left hand ring finger; white gold wrist 

special Frelitninary Investigation Reports 155 

uiitih with expansion band on kit arm: tattoos of anchor- 
right outer forearm; etc. 
k. Why Suspected or Warited: Give the reas(jn tliat the person is 
a suspect or wanted. Examples: Identified by victim, or ob- 
served hanging around the scene on several occasions prior to 
the crimes being committed. 

Remarks Concerning Suspects or Persons Wanted (2). Gi\c any 
intormation or descriptions of suspects or persons wanted that you 
have not listed above. 

Examples: Subject may be accompanied by white female-no de- 
scription available; or, subject known to frequent bars in vicinity 
of .Main Street and 5th Avenue. 

Persons Arrested (3). State the name, sex, race, and arrest 
nunil)er of each person arrested in connection with the auto theft. 
Remarks Concerning Persons Arrested (4). Give additional 
information about the persons arrested (associates, circumstances 
surrounding the arrest, etc.) that may be of value in presenting 
your case in court or may be of assistance in the future apprehen- 
sion of the suspect should he become involved in other crimes. 
Example: Subject offered armed resistance, had to be taken by 
force, was in company of other known criminal. 


A fourth, and possibly the most important preliminary investi- 
gation report, is the "Vehicle Accident Report," Form 10. Like 
cases of ^vanted and missing persons and auto and bicycle thefts, 
the specialized nature of the information needed for adecjuate re- 
porting of an accident case requires a special form. 

Information that you have obtained as a result of an accident 
in\estigation must be placed on the established report form. This 
information, in turn, is delivered to the records division and pro- 
cessed. In the records division tiie accident forms are checked, 
classified, indexed, and copied. In addition, certain inh)rmation is 
taken from original reports and placed on maps, file cards, tallies, 
and other forms, as they flow through the records division to their 
place in designated files. Thus, your original reports, together with 
ofhce forms and other related materials, accunudate in the records 


Basic Police Report Writing 

office and become the Avorkin^ and guidino basis for your depart- 
ment's traffic control program. 

Tlie "\'ehicle Accident Report," Form 10, conforms in most 
details \\ ith a standard form originally developed by the National 
Safety C-oiuiciTs Committee on Traffic Records and adopted by the 


Veh. 1 - .Charge.. 

Vch. 2 Charge. - 



Vehicle Accident Report "k 

_ Z- ,- — Township. 


S.».. Ni 

°< I Occurred on _ 

{U) <Q At Intersection With . 




Motor Vehicle i 
Involved with I 

(7) Z 

Driven by. 

Company/ Employer/Military Unit — 

Afe -_ Se« _Driv. Eip . 

Make Yr Type ''[ 

Going On 

Uses Road or Street Frequently 

Reg. Owner 

Estimated Speed 


E«tinuted Sp««d it Di»t»nce 

. MomcDt ot Aeeident . TraTeled 

Parts of Vehicle Damaged 
Never Before. . - Dale Dn 

Nabofutity/Race. . 

Amount $ 
■ Last Lscd Road 

Max. Safe Speed .Usd«r 

Company/Employer/Military Unit- 
MJte Yr. Type 

Going ^ ^ On 

Uses Road or Street Frequently 
Reg. Owner. _ 

...CluurB Oper'a 

Parts of Vehicle Damaged- .Amount $... 

ZT Before. Date Driver Last Used Road. ...- 

Estimated Speed Eatimatcd Spee^ kt 
at That Time Moment of Acctdcnt 

reled After Impact 

Mu. Safe Speed Under 
Condilioa* PrevailiDC 

CB) I>amai::e to Property Oilier Than Vehicle; 

Pe;^or.l Age. Scx. Taken to 

1"'^^^ y Nature of Injuriea: None Minor Major Fatal Injured Wa»: ... — Ped. Dri 

- -- a """ 

5 Name...... — Address 

._PaM Other Occupant ia Veh. No — In ™~. 

(10) I 

„ Addri 

Where Was Witness. 

Where Was W'itnes's' 

Description of Accident and Circunutancee Which Led to It 


« Reported In Compllj 
Kame of Officer. 

nth 484 V. C Driver I.. 

FoR>r 10. Vehicle .Xccident Report (8i/2"xll") (Front) 

S[)<-(i(il I'yclniuiKny Imn'sti'^nlioii licpovts 


National ( lonlfifiu c on riiilonn Accident Statislics. It is app.n- 
cnt that this (oniplctc ace idcnt ic|)()rt lorm occupies a \ilal ];c)si- 
tion in a tiallit control program. It jjroN ides the basis lor plainiing 
.ind luniishes inlorniation recpiired lor administration as well as 
that recpiired by law. It follows that many ol the benefits ol an ex- 
cellent aeeident in\i'sti'>ati()n will be lost unless the inloi mat ion 


PEDESTRlANi Was Going... 



i Street or Road Fromently Rarely Before or Race....' Occupation. - Clothing 

Were Crosswalks Marked? Yts JVo Was Pedestrian Inside Markings or Extensions of Sidewalk Lines? 

16. HrtcblngsnnMcra 

L Cratiint it IntirKriioti «ilh ilgnal 

2. SaiBt— afinit ilgnal 

9. Sa»»— AS iigul 

4. Sim»— 4aseiull]r 

5. Cnulng not it >nt*rutllan 


r nhlcli 


rtralghl thud 


I I i 7. Slirtlni froB pirkad p«lll« 

{ S. Slosptd In trifle Uni 

, . f'-fdV"-' 

. I. Or*r1ikin| 

2. Aralding** 
obltcl ar PI 
3 Sk.dding 




DNS INDICATED ,c».a o~ ..—./-"'» ^• 

L Cxntding ttiltd ip««d Hnll 

1 E>.ndlno u>< iixl-tut aM itilX l»:i 

J VioWnl wJulriin fliM ol n, 

5. Following too cloitlr 

6. Drovt through uftly lOfll 

7. Paiaing ituHing Unit cat 

8. Piuinfl on hill 

9 Ponini on ti™ 





10. Cutting (n 
15. Sun*— cut c 

r ntling 

n DiulRB 




». o.vnfM <io> ">' " 'if-l 


21. DivigiX.O ..rning iign i. i.gnal 


22.'Kt oikir l.oHli txil'ol Inlci 

Z3. tmoropFr lUrling from pvktd poilllon 


21. lmor.B.. oo'liog loiKion 

25. Failtd to turti on llghU 

26. nth./ fiol.lion (ngliln in r.n.rU) 




27. «o«ol.tio. 









n Condition -■- -• 


. Hid bMn drinking— no* k 
. Sobriety unbimm 

Alcohol Tests— type, 
results and by whom givetL... 




iftcttn braka 

3, Htidlighti IntufRcitnt c 
5. Rur light Intulllclefil a 

*"" (17) 

6. Olhv ligKli or rcftcc 



3. EJBbankHMt 

RIND OF LOCALITY tChf.i „.,. .w, 
I I 2. Shoppii 



' I ' I * 1 1- Stnight 

,g ' ( 19 ) " I I 3. Rn.dinliil [J 4. School a 

L ' ' 

u '■ \z 





ROAD CONDITIONS ,£.ri.r- /.I' ••■'•! {72) 

C«...-, U 1 Dr, iJj. W« U,, si.„.r, U4. Sno„ U_il., 


1. Wiiltli ot piren)«nt or road lurfao 
for vrhicular IraDic. ticl. ibouldr 

2. Additional iiidth of >houMet< 


.1. T..l:il liuinlicr of IraffiClaiiCS \\>rt hnl^s mirlifd ? 1 .J Yt! U i^o 

4. WcrtnpposlnclrafScljncs srparatfd' LI YfJ '.J N"" By 


U L Htlil 00 U 2. Sidi mio.— h 

LI J. »,o.d,ld, 0. right ihgl. U 4. Ru, „d Us. Sid.m, 

Form 10. Vcliidr Report (Re\crse) 

158 Basic Police Report Writi?ig 


Cm taffiptiM af wci4ta( Kcnc, factual taU, lUUncoti, and riiccr'i 


Form 11. Interview and Investigation Summary (Attachment to Vehicle Ac- 
cident Report) . 

yoii gather is completely and correctly transterred to the A'ehicle 
Accident Report." Each report form and all reqtiired copies must 
be legible, accurate, complete, and free from contradictory state- 

special PrcUinindry I iivc.sliij^/it/on J{(-[)()tts 


Lc^islaliuii and clcpaiinicnial polic y slioiild iiuluaic lo you the 
type ot accidents to be reported on this lorni. Ordinarily, the lorni 
is used on motor vehicle traffic accidents. l)ei)artmental policy also 
should inditate the manner by which the accident data are noted 
at the scene and the subsecpient jirocedure as to the time, place, 
and manner ol transc ribing these data to the accident report form. 

For the purpose ol discussing the report form itself, it will be 
assimied that you have made a thorough investigation of the acci- 
dent, recorded the essential information in your notes, and that 
you now are ready to transfer the data to your report form. 

\Vhile it may appear that a large quantity of information is 
sought by the form, much of it can be provided by merely checking 
certain items appearing on the form. For the most part, the type of 
information desired is self explanatory. The following discussion 
is for the purpose of clarifying tlie various sections for you, creat- 
ing uniformity in recording available data, and emphasizing those 
sections which are of primary importance to the traffic control 

Numbers of the following sections will correspond to the type- 
written numbers on the illustrated form. 

Arrest or Citation Number (1) 

If you have made any arrests or issued citations, space in the 
upper left-hand corner is provided for recording the arrest or cita- 
tion nuinber, which vehicle was driven by the cited or arrested 
driver, and the charge or charges brought. 

Reporting Department (2) 

The illustrated form assumes that state law or departmental 
policy requires reporting to an over-all state agency. If such is the 
case, give the name of your city, comity, toAvnship, and division. 

Case Number (3) 

Space is provided in the upper right-hand corner for recording 
the case number luider "Local No." The "State No." will be re- 
corded by the state agency to \vhi(h a copy of your report is sub- 

160 B<isi( Police Rcjx))! \\'iili)iij. 

Location and Date (4) 

Urban or City Accidents. The location is either "at an inter- 
section" or "not at an intersection." Check the appropriate space 
to indicate \vhic h is the case. 

It tlie accident is "at an intersection," you should check the 
first space, place the name of the street coming first alj)hal)etically 
on the line after the avoids, "accident occurred on," and then the 
name of the other intersecting street on the line following the 
\vords, "at intersection Avith." Thus, "accident occurred on Maple 
Street at intersection with \\\)rd Avenue." If more than two streets 
intersect at the place, use the name of the twc:) coming first alpha- 
betically. Thus, if the accident occurred at the intersection of 
Froam Street, Selma Avenue, and Talbot Lane, your entry would 
read, "accident occurred on Froam Street at the intersection ^vith 
Selma Avenue." 

In cases where the accident occurs between intersections, you 
should check the space "not at intersection" and indicate the exact 
location by distance from an intersection or by the street or house 
niunber. A typical example is: "accident occurred on North Elm 
Avenue, 200 feet south of Cameron Road." 

Rural Accidents. Generally, the above instructions Avill apply 
in rinal accidents. In certain rural areas, ho^vever, it is difficult to 
give an actual location because of absence of fixed location points 
or because distances are much greater from fixed location points. 

In a rural accident occurring at a rc:)ad intersection, your entry 
might be "accident occurred in Sutter Comity, Rusk Township, 
4.6 miles east of Roarkville city limits, on U.S. \o. 40 at intersec- 
tion Avith Farm Road No. 36." 

In locating the r-aral accident not at a road intersection, your 
entry could be "accident occurred in Sutter County, Rusk Toavu- 
shijj, 5.4 miles south of Roark\ille on Farm Road 40. 175 feet 
north of Deer Lodge." 

It is extremely important that you define the exact location of 
the ace idem in ternrs understandable by records division j)erson- 
nel. In the examples given, it would be possible for officer person- 
nel to locate the accident exactly cm spot maps and to fde the re- 

Sf)('(i(tl l'rrliiiniun\ I tn'cstiii^dhoii Reports Ifil 

jK)i"t (oncclly ill liic location liU'. In addition, it is possible for 
engineers or cnloiteincnt |)crsonncl to Inul and studv ilic exact 
location ol the accidiiit. In some rinal areas accidents may be lo- 
cated by relerence to mdc posts, bridge nnmbers, telej:)hone ])ost 
numbers, liiglnvay section numbers, etc. 

Time ot Accident (5) 

Indicate as closely as possible the exact lime of the ace ident. In 
the tiallic (ontrol jMogram nuu h stress is placed upon this element. 
It is important to indicate the month of the year by spelling in- 
stead of lunnbers tcr eliminate mistakes. It also is impc^rtant that 
all itenrs be noted— day of the week, month, day of month, year, 
and hoiu' ol the day— as all are used in the control jjrogram. 

Motor Vehicle Involved With (6) 

In this section you sliould indicate what Avas struck bv the 
motor vehicle. Was it another motor \ehicle? Or was it a lixed 
object? It is highly important in the control plan to know just 
exactly what was invoh ed in the accident. You siiould be guided 
by official departmental definitions and terminology. That is, what 
is a motor \ chicle accident? What is meant by non-collision, etc? 

Vehicles (7) 

Note that pro\isions ha\e been made on the form for reporting 
\ital information on iwo vehicles involved. Use an additional re- 
port form if three or more vehicles are in\oh'ed. Be sure to gi\ e 
the driver's full name. Check the spelling of the name both \er- 
bally and with the dri\er's license or other forms of ident ihcat ion. 
If your report is handwritten, print all names carefully. These pro- 
visions also apply to all other places on the report where names 
are called for. It is important that persons be identified completely, 
j)articularly for the drixer record and name file. If you Avrite the 
name R. Jones, there may be another "R. Jones." On the other 
hand, if you write James Robert Jones the possibility of correct 
identification on tiie record is much greater. The items calling for 
address, beat, phone, nationality, race, age, sex, dri\ing experience, 
driver's license nund)er. and type of dri\er's lie eirse nuist be filled 

162 Basic Police Report IVritiug 

out correctly, as they, too, help identify persons involved and sup- 
ply important material for use in the control program. 

Be careful in recording all information necessary to identify 
the vehicle, o\vner, damage, estimated speed, etc. This information 
is valuable both in the control program and in determining traffic 
law violations. 

Do not hesitate to estimate the speed of vehicles both before 
and after the danger was sighted. Positive knowledge is not neces- 
sary for statistical purposes, but you should make yom- estimates as 
carefidly as possible, taking into consideration physical exidence 
and statements of drivers and xvitnesses. "Lawful speed" means in 
most cases the stated speed limit applicable. 

Damage to Property Other Than Vehicles (8) 

If damage was incurred to property other than the vehicles in- 
volved, name the object, sho\v its oxvnership, and state the nature 
and amount of damage. 

Injured (9) 

List the total number of persons injured or killed. Give the full 
name, address, and nature of injuries and other identifying infor- 
mation relating to each person injured. If more than two persons 
are injured, use an additional report form. 

Witnesses (10) 

Record the full name, address, and phone number of each xvit- 
ness and state exactly where he xvas at the time the accident oc- 

Pedestrian (11) 

Report all items in this section accurately and completely Avhen 
a pedestrian is involved in the accident. This material is needed 
for specific pedestrian control planning. 

What Drivers Were Doing (12) 

Here the desired information is Avhat the drixers were doing 
before danger xvas sighted— before danger arose— before their ac- 
tions or courses were changed by other circumstances. For example. 

special PrcUtniJiary Investigation Reports 163 

il a clii\c'i was proceeding along a straiglu thorouglifare, not in- 
tending to turn— saw something in his path and, to axoid hitting 
it. tinned into a side street— you should place the check mark in 
the box scpiare i^eiore "going straight ahead." The turning in this 
case was not the intended direction ot travel. The driver originally 
had planned to go straight ahead. 

What Drivers Were Doing (continued) (13) 

These specihc items are similar to (12) in that they apply to 
actions prior to the time danger was first sighted. It a car, skidding 
on slippery paxement before brakes ^vere applied, collides \\'ith 
another object, you should place a check mark in the box square 
beside "skidding." Check these items, when applicable, in addition 
to items in (12) . 

Violations Indicated (14) 

Check all violations committed by the driver of each vehicle 
involved, even though you have not found sufficient evidence for 
prosecution. This information is for statistical purposes, and you 
shoidd list the violation if you honestly believe it was committed 
and that it caused or was a contributing cause of the accident. 
Officers are sometimes hesitant to indicate a violation if they can- 
not prove it, fearing that they may be called upon in court to ex- 
plain. In such cases they should merely explain that these are their 
opinions only and that they ^vere indicated for statistical purposes. 
It is apparent that if you indicate only provable violations much 
information needed to formulate selective plans of education, 
engineering, and enforcement will be lost. 

Under the spaces for "other violations" avoid the use of 
general terms such as reckless driving. I Usually the recklessness 
consisted of one or more specific acts that already are listed or may 
be added. Avoid inserting "inider the influence of alcohol" be- 
cause this violation is coverd later on the form. Don't use "im- 
proper auto registration;" this type of violation does not cause 

Diffictdties sometimes arise over Nos. 19, 20, 21 in this list of 
violations. No. 20, "disregarding stop sign or signal," means the 

164 B((slr Police Rrpoyt W'nlniii 

act ol disregarding; any sign or signal rcciuiring the dri\er to stop 
before proceeding, but docs not apply to a red signal in a 'stoj) 
and go light," \vhi( h is covered in Xo. 19. The distinction here is 
I)et\ven the sign or a signal which means "stop and proceed with 
caution alter stopping" and one which means "stop and wait for 
the green light before proceeding." No. 21 refers to any warning 
sign, including the flashing amber or "stop and go signal." If the 
red and green lights were not operating, and the flashing ambei 
^vas being used alone, the signal Avas merely a ^varning device de- 
spite its other capabilities. 

Condition of Driver and Pedestrian (15) 

In this section you should indicate yom- honest belief as to con- 
dition of persons involved as drivers or pedestrains even though 
you do not have sufficient evidence to prosecute. Thoroughness in 
the investigation, including close observation and examination, 
will result in a high degree of accuracy on your part. Note tiiat 
space is provided for explanation of the condition of the persons 
involved, along with the results of alcohol tests. 

Traffic Control (16) 

The explanation given under "violations indicated" applies 
here \\ith equal force. If a stop and go light is flashing amber, the 
device is classified as a functioning warning signal. If it is flashing 
red, it is a functioning stop signal. If it is alternating from red to 
green, it is a functioning stop and go light. If it is not operating 
at all, it is non-functioning stop and go light. 

Vehicle Condition (17) 

Record any defects of the ^ehicle, after careful examination of 
brakes, headlights, rear lights, steering mechanism, or other jxarts 
whidi are likely to have caused the accident if they were not func- 
tioning l)efore the accident. 

Vision Obscured (18) 

Obscured vision often residts in accidents. A carefid examina- 
tion of both the vehicle and highway or street is necessary before 
you record any inlormatiou in this section of the report. 

Sf)C(i(il l')cUinin<n\ I nvc.slio^dtion Rt'liovls Ki") 

Kind of Locality (19) 

I lu' kind ol localiiv ■ is iiulicalcd on the form as "nianufac- 
iaiin,!4 or iiuUistrial." ■■sli()])j)iiii; or l)iisincss," "residential dis- 
trict." "sdiool or |)lavL!,round." "open area." or "any other type." 
Sinte it is olteii dilhcidt to determine the kind of locality, make 
your decision on the i)asis of the predominatino characteristic of 
the locality \\ithin a :H)0 feet radius of the ac c ident. 

Road Character (20) 

Like the condition of the xehicles and the dri\ers, the "road 
condition" is very important in determining the case ol many 
accidents. Check the road as either "straight," "sharp curve," 
'otheriinxe." and either "level." "u]) grade." '■hillcrest." or '"down 

Road Surface (21) 

■Road Surface" means the material or materials with whic h the 
R)ad surface is constructed. Chec k as "concrete," ■"as})halt." asphalt 
concrete," ""oiled gra\el." ""iinpa\ed," or Avrite in any other type of 

Road Conditions (22) 

Like the "road character," "vehicle condition," and "condi- 
tion of the driver," "road conditions" are very important in the 
traffic control jirograirr. Be careful to record all conditions that 
may ha\e contributed to the accident. 

Road Width and Lanes (23) 

Indicate both the Avidth of the pavement and the shoulders. Do 
not estimate: actual measurements are required. Give the total 
number of trailic lanes. ^Vere the lanes marked? Were o})posing 
trallic lanes sejjaraied? If so. by ^\■hat? 

Type of Collision (24) 

If the accident is one other than pedestiain or single-x chicle 
accident, check it as either "head on," "side swipe— head on." 
"broadside or right angle." ""rear end." ""side s^vipe rear end." or 

166 Basic Police Report ir>7'//Ng 

Description of Accident and Circumstance Which Led to It (25) 
This section is a synopsis of the accident. Give a description of 
the accident and circumstances which led to it in a brief, precise 
way. When complete, your synopsis should form an introductory 
paragraph to the "Interview and Investigation Summary," the 
second sheet of your report. 

A sample synopsis of an accident follows: 

Vehicle No. 1. driven by Robert C. Adams of 2208 Arch Way, 
Bhink\ille, Clalilornia, IV 7-4386, traveling north on Walnut St. at 
SO ni.jj.h., slowed to about 20 m.p.h. in passing stop sign and collided 
with vehicle No. 2, driven by Raymond D. Cole of 1842 South Elm, 
Blankville, California, GI 4-3567, traveling west on Main Street at 
about 30 m.p.h. Left front of vehicle No. 1 struck left rear wheel of 
vehicle No. 2. Driver of No. 1 stated he thought it sufficient to slow 
down and vmderestimated speed of No. 2. 

Closing Data (26) 

The "closing data" of your report include the information 
which is normally termed the "ending." Obtain the signatures of 
all drivers involved; sign your report; give your badge nmnber; 
and indicate the date and time that the report was completed. The 
report also provides space for the signatine of the superior officer 
who will review and approve your report. 

Interview and Investigation Summary (27) 

Complete this section of the report if your investigation reveals 
personal injury, hit and run, a fatality, or if prosecution for any 
major misdemeanor or a felony is contemplated. 

Follow the same format as provided for the narrative section 
of the "General Preliminary Investigation Report." Depending 
upon the nature of the investigation, several or all of the folloAving 
headings may be inserted and completed: (1) details, (2) undevel- 
oped leads, (3) conclusions, (4) recommendations, (5) list of 
exhibits, and (6) diagram of the accident. 

In any event, when you complete this "Interview and Investi- 
gation Summary," the "details" and "diagram of the accident" 
sections must be completed. Let your first paragraph of the "de- 
tails" present the details of the complaint. Give yoin- aiuhority for 

Sprdiil Piclintindry hwcstiiidtioti Reports MM 

coiuliuting the iiucstinatioii in the sccoiul paragraj^h. Let each 
subsequent paragraph ol the details" represent a significant step 
in the in\'estigation. 

Place the diagram of the accident on the Ijack of tlie "Inter- 
\ iew and Investigation Summary" page, or add another page for 
this specific purpose. Draw tlie diagram with north at the top of 
the page wherever possible. The diagram may not be drawn exactly 
to scale, but it should give a graphic picture of what occurred. It 
must tie in with the description of what happened, covered earlier 
in your report. 

Chapter XV 


F vou ARE A PA^ROL^rA^^ YOUR services are of three general 
types: (1) called-tor services, (2) routine patrol, and (3) inspec- 
tional services. Preliminary investigation reports, previously dis- 
cussed, are largely the result ot called-for services. There are, how- 
ever, a nimiber ot reports necessary to effective performance of 
routine patrol and inspectional duties. These so-called patrol 
service reports are the topic of discussion in this chapter. 


For example, yoin- department may follo^v the progressive 
policy of inspecting homes left \acant ^vhile the occupants are oiu 
of to^vn on xacation. Residents of the city recognize the value of 
this service, and it is vakiable to yotn^ department both as a crime 
deterrent and as a means of establishing good public relations. 
Citizens l)ecome aware of this ser\'ice through ne^vspaper notices, 
radio and television broadcasts, and departmental publications. 
Many citizens rejjort their forthcoming \acation departine by cal- 
ling the department or appearing in person. 

The completion of Form 12 is a responsibility of the complaint 
clerk. He makes an original and t^vo copies Avhen the information 
is received. 

The 5"x3" cardboard form is excellent for filing and pr()\ ides 
adequate space for: (1) date of departine of the occupant, (2) 
date of return, ('5) the occupant's name, (4) his address, (5) Avho 
reported the \acan(y, (6) the name and address of the person to 
notify in the e\cnt of emergency, (7) the forwarding address of 
the occu])ant, (8) the date the residence ^vas checked by the ser- 
geant with the beat officer, and (9) the date the occupant was in- 
tervie\ved by the sergeant to determine means of gaining entrance 
dining an emergency and other inh)rniation necessary to proper 
sur\eillance while the occupant is away. 


r<ih()l Scn'Irc Reports lO?) 

\AC:.\ I l<)\ llOMl Kl I'OK I 

Name Adciress 

Date of Departure Dale ot Return 

Repoitcil Bv _ — 

111 Kiiic'i<4Ciu \ \'(ilil\ 

Forwarding Address 

Date ot C:iietk Date ol Iiuer\iew — . 

Form 12. Wuatioii Floine Report (5"x3") . 

The complaint c lerk sends the original to the records di\ision 
where it is filed by the h)ll()\v-iip officer inider the date ol expected 
return. The complaint clerk then files the duplicate copies in a file 
at the ccmiplaint desk according to the appropriate beats on the 
nigiit shifts. The file is readily available to both the (omplaint 
clerk and patrof sergeants. 

If ycni are a beat patnjlman, it is yoiu- responsibility to check 
the daily bulletin for vacation home assignments and record these 
assignments in your noteljook. When you complete each inspec- 
tion, record the date of the inspection, time, condition of the resi- 
dence, and the time required to complete the check. Prior to the 
date of expected return leave a "Notice," Form 13, under the front 
door at tlie residence. Once tlie vacationing occupant has retinned, 
complete Form 14, "Report of \'acation Home Inspections." For- 
^\■ard the report to the records di\ision and the follow-up officer. 
The folloAV-up officer will remove the \acation home report from 
his file and file it j^ermanently ^vith yoin- rejwrt in the records di\ i- 


Store reports, such as Form 15. are also your responsibility as a 
patrolman. They ser\e a nund)er of jnuposes. They facilitate 
periodic contacts with businessmen on your beat, assine periodic 
inspection of every connnercial establishment in the city, and pro- 
\'ide the residence addresses and telej)hone nund)ers of the j)ro- 
prietor and his assistant foi' emergency use. 

170 Basic Police Report Writi?ig 


Will you please report your return from 
vacation at your earliest convenience, so 
we may discontinue surveillance. 



Phone THornwall 5-8000 

Form 13. Vacation Home Notice (5"x3") . 

Headquarters \vill notify you when commercial buildings are 
newly occupied on your beat. Contact tlie manager of the estab- 
lishment. Get the name of the store; the address; the manager's 
full name, home address, and home phone ninnber; and the same 
information from the assistant manager. Record this in your field 

Request of the manager that you be allowed to make a tour of 
the building to inspect and record security information. Inspect 
the adequacy of the locks on all doors, the security of the roof 
entrance, the location and security provided for the safe, the bur- 
glar alarm and other security system used. Ask such questions as: 
Can I reach all entries without climbing fences? Is your back yard 
lighted at night? Are blinds and shades raised to facilitate my see- 
ing into the building at night? Do you employ a night watchman 
or utilize the services of a private patrol? \Vniat precaiuions do you 
take against holdups? 

After completing the contact and insj^ection, offer suggestions 
as to added security for the establishment. Prepare a "Store Re- 
port," being carefid to sinnmarize the results of the inspection and 
your suggestions on the back of the form. 

Patrol Sen'ice Reports 




Date Inspected 

Tine Inspected 


Time Required 

114. 7«J 

Over for additional Inspections 

Form 14. Report of Vacation House Inspections (8"x5") . (Front) 

te Inspected lime Inspected 

lime Required 

Form 11. Rci)()rt of Vacation House Inspections (Reverse). 

172 Basic Police Rcj)(>rt Wvitinir 

Store reports are filed acxording to street number under the 
names of the streets arranged alphabetically. The store file is kept 
in a location convenient to the dispatcher in order that he may use 
information regarding the proprietor or his assistants in case of 
emergency, regardless of the hoin". 

From time to time you will receive groups of Store Reports. 
When you do, it is your responsibility again to contact the manag- 
ers of the establishments and conduct inspections. If changes have 
been made in the management of the stores or in security condi- 
tions, make new Store Reports. 


Mgr. , Home Phone 

Home address 

Ass't. Home Phone. 

Home address 

Date: By- 

FoRM 15. Store Report (5"x3") . 


As a matter of routine, you should conduct conscientious and 
thorough insjjections of all connnercial establishments during the 
hours ^\hen the places are closed to the public. Check front, rear, 
and side doors and ^vindo^vs. Look for defective locks and safe, 
and for alley and store lights that are out. Be alert for open doors, 
transoms, and skylights, and keys left in doors. 

When you find any of these conditions, help to build good pid)- 
lic relations and eliminate trime opportunities by completing a 
"Security Condition Report," Form 16. Simply record the name 

Ptiliol SovKc Rff>()yts 17:^ 

and address ol the In iii and I lie dale and t inie ol yonr lepdit. Clheck 
the ini|)i()j)ei' secniitv (ondition on the loiiii and si^^n the* report, 
gi\ ino your Ijadge number. 

Attempt to ( orret t the improper security condition, il possible, 
and lea\e yoin rejjoi t under the front door so that it will be noticed 
when the jjhue is opened lor business. 

This same kind ot ser\ ice also can be rendered tor the negligent 
motorist who leaves his auto inilocked or keys in the ignition. In 
these cases complete the "Invitation to Thieves Report," Form 17, 
and lea\e it under the windshield w ij^er or tace-up on the driver's 
side ol the Iront seat. 


AVhile on rotitine patrol you will observe many other report- 
able conditions that are of interest to other police luiits, other citv 
departments, and private utility companies. This kind of condi- 
tion calls for the completion of a "Special Ser\ ice RejDort." Form 
18. When properly filled in, the report ser\es as a reminder that you 
should be alert for any of the conditions listed on the form and 
assures notice to the interested agencies. 

W'iien you as a j^atrolman discoxer any irregidarity listed on 

Business Date 

Address Time 

While patrolling his district the officer found the following conditions, as 
checked, to exist at your place of business: 

□ Front door unlocked □ Safe light out 

□ Rear door unlocked Q Alley light out 
n Side door unlocked □ Store light out 

□ Rear window open □ Skylight open 

□ Side window open □ Transom open 

□ Defective lock at f] Keys left in door 


Your attention will be appreciated. 


By Officer No. 


I'oRM l(). Sec urit\ Cloiulition Report (5'"x3") 

174 Basic Police Report Writius:; 

the Spc( ial Service Report, (ill in the rej^ort and take the necessary 
immediate action. It you observe the condition dinin(> business 
hours, you may be able to notify the agency. Later the clerk will 
check the condition indicated on the report. List the pertinent 
information, note the action he has taken, and send your report 
to the records division at the end of his tour of duty. A clerk on the 
day shift in the records division will telephone the information to 
the proper agency and place the report in a file under your name. 
When you have reported a condition on the Special Service 
Report, you also have completed your obligation in the matter. 
Any further follow-up may result in friction between your depart- 
ment and the department or agency concerned. 


Invitation to Ttiieves 


We solicit your cooperation in keeping the ignition and 
doors of your auto locked at all times that the car is parked. 



By , Officer No 


Form 17. Invitation to Thieves Report (5"x3") . 


In the course of your patrol activity you also will find reason 
for completing the Field Interrogation Report," Form 19. A field 
interrogation is just what the words imply; a conversation held in 
the area where you first encounter a subject. It is an attempt to 
learn the identity of the subject, his business in the area, and his 

'Information on lliis topic was adapted from Allen P. Birstow: Field Interrogation, 
Springfield, Charles C 1 homas. Publisher, 19r)8, with consent of the publisher. 

I'd hoi Service Reports 175 

possible connection with any criminal adivities. Reporting inter- 
rogations is a \ ital j)art ol your routine partol activity. 

Field interrogations enable you to learn about the jjersons liv- 
ing in your district who have criminal records or tendencies. Con- 
versely, field interrogations give you an opportunity to meet local 
residents and businessmen, develop inlormants, and create favor- 
able public relations situations. Frecpient stopping and cpiestion- 
ing of suspicious jjersons tends to reduce tiie crime rate in your 
district. Word will travel quickly by the criminal grape vine that 
yoin- area is being well partol led. Chiminals rarely frequent areas 
where they are continuously stopped for interrogTation, and tend 
not to choose these districts for criminal activity. The third and 
most important purpose of your field interrogation is to record the 
presence of the subject in your district at a particular time and 
place. This information may be utilized w^hen a crime is later dis- 
covered in the district. The development of an adequate reporting 
system for field interrogations often bridges the communications 
gap between detective and patrol personnel. 

After you have satisfied yourself as to the identity and purpose 
of a subject w hom you have contacted in the field, you should take 


Beat No Date Hour Officer 

Location Date Hour 


Reporting Officer requests that you notify tlie proper agency of condition indicated 


Reporting Officer reports that agencv was notified of condition indicated below 

Naine of Department or Agency 
Nature of Condition 

Person Responsible 

Action Taken Bv Beat Officer 

Information on Vehicle Involved: 

License No Owner Address 

Driver Dr. Lie. No. Address . 

Telephone Notice to Records Clerk Date Hour 

Form 18. Special Service Report (8"x5") . 


Basic Police Report Writing 


Blankville Police Department 
Field Interrogation Report 


Last Name First (print) 




Race I Age 



Date of Birth I Place of Birth. 

Compl. I Eyes | Hair 

Operator's No. 

Social Security No. 

Description of Dress 

Make of Car 

License No. 



Form 19. Field Interrogation Report (5"x3") (Front) 

care in reporting the interrogation to satisfy the final objective of 
your actions. 

Objectives of Field Interrogation Reports 

Notes regarding a contact in the field are of little value when 
they remain in yom" notebook. Detective and other follow-iip of- 
ficers as ^vell as fellow patrolmen ha\e no access to notes tucked 
a\vay in yoiu" locker. Furthermore, others are not likely to learn 
of the existence of these notes iniless you enter the contact in yoiu" 
log sheet. 

For a program of patrol field interrogation to be really effec- 
tive, a systematic method of recording each contact must be in- 
stituted. This record system must be a\ailable to detectives, follow- 
up officers, administrators, and other patrolmen if it is to achieve 
maximum effectiveness. 

Establishing a field interrogation recording system insures that 
each patrolman will gather the same information for each subject 
and omit nothing of importance. 

The Report Design 

The foimdation of a records system for field interrogation lies 
in the adoption of a standardized report form. Devising such a 
form, and making it an oHic ial departmental report, ha^'e the psy- 

I'iiirol Sen'ice Reports 177 

R. C. D. Check 



Form 19. l-'it'ld Interrogation Report (Reverse) . 

chological advantage of impressing patrolmen that the department 
not only fa\'ors and encourages field interrogations, but also re- 
cjuires them. Becatise such a form is an official report, signed by the 
patrolman, it tends to pre\ent the practice of "padding" patrol 
logs by officers \\'\x\\ fictitious field interrogations. 

Form of the Report. The field interrogation report as pre- 
sented in this manual is printed on a 3" by 5" cardboard card, both 
sides. This size is tised because it will fit conveniently in your note- 
book, is more easily handled in the field, and is readily adaptable 
to filing. Cardboard or heavy paper is durable and facilitates ^\•riting 
under field conditions, f^oth sides of the card ha\e weU marked 
"fill-in" spaces for the necessary information to insure luiiformity. 

Contents of the Form. The information regarding the subject 
tiiat you should note on the card includes: (1) name, (2) address 
and telephone niniiber, (S) physical description, (4) age and date 
of birth, and (5) a description of his clothing. \Vhen the sid))ect 
has no middle name, use his mother's maiden name as an aid in 

Information that you record regarding the location should in- 
clude the time, day of week, and date. In addition to listing the 
intersection or address of the interrogation, the census tract or 
grid division of occurrence shoidd be listed for later evaluation. 
If the location is connected with a possible or j:)()tcntial \ictim or 

178 Basic Police Report Writing 

area ol (liniinal acli\ity, tliis slioiikl also be listed, lor instance: 
"(ith and Elm, Ciarfield School," or "826 Short St., Frank's Liquor 

AV'hen an automobile is involved in the field interrogation, you 
should describe it by: (1) make and year, (2) license number, (3) 
style, and (4) color. Any companions toimd with the sidDJect 
shoidd be listed in the appropriate space, but the main subject on 
the card should be the driver, when a group is foimd in a car. It 
is also ^vise to list the seating location of the subject's companions 
in the automobile for future reference. 

Supplementary information that you should list includes: (1) 
any identification number found on the subject's documents; (2) 
any serial numbers found on property carried by the subject; (3) 
results of a record check, if made; and (4) your reason for interro- 
gating the subject. Sign the card before you assume it is complete. 

Making Entries on the Report Form 

All entries should be made in ink; and, for this purpose, a 
fountain pen is most successful. Fill out each space; or, when a 
space does not apply, line it out to prevent any possible omissions. 
Do not rely on various pieces of identification for information as 
to the subject's physical description; they are often inaccurate. 
Make the entries on the basis of your o^vn observations and judg- 

Special Entries. List the amoimt and denominations of money 
carried by the subject and the mileage of the automobile he is driv- 
ing. Any companions shoidd be listed as completely as space per- 

Mollifying Irate Subjects. The best technique in field interro- 
gation reporting is never to permit the subject to kno^v that a re- 
port is being made. The card may be concealed in your notebook, 
and the sidjject may be told that you always keep personal notes 
on each person with whom you talk. This statement tends to ex- 
plain to the subject the reason for your taking the notes. When 
possible, your partner shoidd distract the subject or keep him at a 
distance to prevent his learning that a report is being written. 

Patrol ScrvKc /irjjoyls 179 

The subject may, however, leain that you are wrilini^ the re- 
port: and. il so, lie nuist he assured that the field interrogation re- 
port is not a criminal record, is not an indication of arrest, and a\ ill 
be held in strict confidence by the department. However, in your 
attempt to prevent such situations, you should not adopt the policy 
ot writino the field interrogation card at a later time on the basis 
of your notes; this practice invites omissions. 

The Filing System 

At the end of your tour of duty you should make a record check 
on any subjects or companions listed in the field interrogation re- 
port ^vhen the check was not made in the field. Any further infor- 
mation thus found should be listed on the card. If you feel strongly 
that the subject is a sex offender, pervert, burglary suspect, or nar- 
cotics user, or you find that he is mentally unstable, identify the 
card wdth an appropriately colored tab along its upper edge. Place 
the card in the incoming report bin for processing. 

Supplementary File Cards. A file clerk examines the card and 
prepares any supplementary file cards that are necessary. Six sup- 
plementary file cards are developed to separate the most indexable 
information found on the card. A different color is used for these 
supplementary cards as well as the original field interrogation card, 
and the color scheme is changed annually so that the filing system 
may be cleared. Cards are kept no longer than one year; thus on 
Jan. 1, 1960, all cards for the calendar year, 1958, are removed 
from the files. 

Supplementary file cards are of great value to the detective 
division in obtaining leads and suspects for crimes. The cards in 
this file are indexed by census tract, map grid district, or other 
geographical divisions. When a crime has occurred in a district, 
the detecti\'e may gain a valuable lead by learning ^vho has been 
the subject of a field interrogation in that area recently. 

Date and time files may be used in the same way by detecti\es. 
W^hen a crime sequence or criminal's modus operandi indicates a 
time or date pattern, the detectives may learn ^vhich subjects ^vere 
in circulation on the dates and times indicated. The time file is in- 

180 Basic Police Report Writing 

dexed by hour and contains 24 divisions— 1 :00 P.M. to 1:59 P.M., 
2:00 P.M. to 2:59 P.M., etc. Date files are indexed numerically 
by the day of: the year— i.e., 265, 266, 267, etc. 

Two supplementary auto files list a vehicle by color and style. 
These files are of great value in cases involving sex offenders, as 
well as in all other crimes where an automobile is involved. Wit- 
nesses are usually correct as to the color and style of an automobile, 
but they are notoriously unreliable when describing year, make, 
or license number. The color file is indexed by major atitomobile 
colors, Avhile the style file is indexed by body type and number of 
doors— i.e., sedans (2 door) , sedans (4 door) , coupes, pick-up 
trucks, etc. 

A companion file is of most tise to detectives ^vhen interroga- 
ting an arrested suspect. These records provide a valuable list of the 
suspect's prior social or criminal companions, who may also be the 
suspect's crime partners at present. The file is alphabetically in- 

After the clerk completes entries on the supplementary cards 
they are indexed and filed. Yotir original field interrogation card 
is filed alphabetically in a master file. The color tag system permits 
special types of subjects to be located quickly. 

Chapter XVI 


N OUR DISCUSSION OF THF. PRFLiMiNARV investigation we placed 
emphasis upon the fact that most cases should be assigned, in their 
initial stages, to beat patrolmen. It is ^vell to note, however, that 
certain cases may be assigned directly to specialized divisions. Re- 
gardless ot the division to which the preliminary investigation is 
assigned, it is the responsibility of the officer who conducts an 
initial investigation in the case to complete one of the various kinds 
of preliminary investigation report forms. If the case is one of a 
minor nature or one completed in its entirety by the officer or 
officers first assigned, the preliminary report may terminate the 
reporting of the investigation. 

All officers ^vho do any Avork or have any information on a case 
are obligated to report any information ^vhich they possess. If the 
work done or the information received is stibsequent to the making 
of the preliminary report, the information should be reported on a 
supplementary in\ estigation form. Form 20. Also, if officers other 
than those assigned do any work on a case, they, too, should com- 
plete a supplementary report form. 

The reporting of supplementary information actually calls for 
two types of supplementary reports; progress and closing reports. 
Our discussion in this chapter deals with the progress report, but 
the same form may be used for either kind. 

The progress supplementary report arises from the fact that 
many cases are prolonged. Some may be terminated in a few weeks, 
others not for months or even years. In these situations, your de- 
partment must be appraised of the progress of the case so long as 
it remains pending. Many progressive agencies solve the problem 
by keeping close check on all cases through the activities of a fol- 
low-up officer who exercises staff supervision over the reporting 
activities of officers in the field. Under this plan, rules and regu- 



Basic Police Report Writing 

lations require that progress reports shall be submitted at fixed 
intervals unless actual developments in the case require earlier 
reporting. These progress reports serve the added purpose of set- 
ting forth undeveloped leads u^hich ^vill be investigated by men 
assigned to clear varied facts of the case. 











Undeveloped Leads: (9) 

Conclusions i 


RecoTim^ndations ; (11) 

List of Exhibits ; (12) 


Oricinal - Hecosos Division 

C.C. - Det. Division STATUS 

C.C. - OisT. Attv. OrricE ~ 




(Use doth sides or paper if needed) 

Form 20. Supplementary Investigation Report (8i/^"xH") 

Sul)j)l('nicnlnr\ Proii^rcs.s licj)()rt 1 H -i 

On the other hand, a ( losiii,^ or prosecuticMi report is one ol a 
slightly different nature; it becomes necessary only when the case 
is concluded. One person, usually the detective who originally 
was assigned to the case, must assume the responsibility of sunmiar- 
i/ino, analvzino, and bringing the loose ends of the investigation 
together into a composite picture. Generally, the closing report 
will be the final one, but submission of it does not preclude re- 
opening the case when additional information is received. This re- 
port is discussed in detail in Chapter 18 of this manual. 


The title of the supplementary progress report is highly indi- 
cative of its nature. When you write a supplementary progress re- 
port, the case sheet and preliminary investigation reports have 
been made or will be completed. The incident has not only been 
reported, but the modus operandi of the criminal usually has been 
determined. Any facts in your report are supplementary to the 
basic ones which have been established. So, if you have informa- 
tion to give, state it briefly, concisely, accurately, and fairly. You 
can best do this in a narrative way, reporting your findings in the 
same order in which you discover them. 


The nature of the report naturally influences its size and con- 
tent. The illustrated form presented as Form 20 is adequate. In 
completing this form you are merely adding another part to the 
entire case picture. Later your progress report will be filed in the 
records division along with the case sheet and the preliminary re- 
port. For this reason the progress report is 81/2 "x 11" to correspond 
conveniently with others in the same file. You will also note that 
the illustrated form contains a printed heading. This kind has ad- 
vantages when compared with a blank sheet. It is easily identified 
once it reaches the records division, which makes for fe^ver errors 
in filing and use. 

A complete supplementary progress report has three parts: 
heading, body, and ending. 

The first part, or heading, is designed to present helpfid ad- 

184 Basic Police Report Wrilinij^ 

niinistrativc data and includes the case number, the offense, date 
and time the offense was committed, victim, complaint, and a salu- 
tation. It is through this identiiyino, information that the neces- 
sary processing is facilitated in the records division. 

The principal content of your report is in the body. Here, in 
narrati\ e form, you tell everything you did and learned abotit the 
case wiiich you and others have not previously reported. 

The ending of the report is its closing administrative data. It 
includes the date and hour you completed the writing, status of 
the case, the period of investigation, your signature, and the dis- 
tribiuion of the various copies. 

Specific Content of the Heading 

Case Number (1). The case number is the same ninnber that 
appears on the daily bulletin, case sheet, and preliminary investi- 
gation report. Take it from any of the above sources. 

Offense (2). The "offense" is the classification of the crime. It 
should correspond with the crime classification as recorded on the 
case sheet and preliminary report. State the specific nature of the 
crime; follow with the applicable section of the penal or other 
code. When you are reporting two or more offenses in the same re- 
port, the most serious of the crimes will determine the classifica- 
tion and the offense Avhich you report on the form. 

Date and Time Committed (3). The date in the heading of 
your report is that date on which the complaint was received, the 
date which appears in the Daily Bulletin. Don't confuse it with 
the date of the report which comes later. Write the date in one of 
the following ways: "1/10/60," "1-10-60," or "Jan. 10, 1960." Re- 
cord the time on the same line. 

Victim, Address and Phone Number (4). This part of the sup- 
plementary progress report refers to those individuals listed as 
"victims" in the preliminary report. If additional victims or aliases 
are luicovered in your supplementary inxestigation, insert the 
Avord "correction" on the "victim" line. This aids persons who 
later will review the case and the records division personnel. Ex- 
plain the correction in the "details" section of your report. 

Capitalize the full name of the victim as follows: "GEORGE 

Supp}('iiu')tl(n\ l^roi^rcss Report 185 

1). )()\1".S. ■ (ii\e his c(Mn])lctc address iiu hiding house nuinber, 
street, eity and state. Iiuhidc home and business telejihone num- 
bers, il they are available. It is correct to list the names, addresses, 
and aliases of all persons who are the victims of tiie crime, or you 
may list the name of the principal \ictim and follow it with the 
word "et al." If the victim has several aliases, all of them should 
ha\e been presented in the preliminary report; in yoin^ supplemen 
tary progress report follo\v the victim's name with the words "and 
aliases.'" You may later refer to the victim in the details of the re- 
port as "Xic tim' or give his last name in capital letters. "When yon 
are unable to identify the \ ictim, you shoidd write the \\ord "l^X- 
KXOW'X' and foUoAv with some identifying information includ- 
ing the nature of the crime and location of it— for example, "UN- 
KNOWN, WMA, victim of armed robbery at .S418 Maria Drive, 
Jan. .S. 1960." 

Complainant and Address (5). Record the full name and ad- 
dress of the complainant. Remember that he may be a person 
other than the victim. 

Salutation (6). .Since it is understood that yoiu' progress report 
is directed to the chief of police, usually no saliuation is necessary. 
Ho^\e\er, if you \vish to call the attention of some officer to yoiu" 
report, you should include a salutation as follows: "Attention 

Officer ." The officer to whom your report is directed 

should later insert his initials immediately following his name. 
When this is done, all persons concerned will know that he re- 
cei\ed and read your report. 

Specific Content of the Body 

The body of the progress report may contain the following 
headings: synopsis, details, undeveloped leads, conclusions, recom- 
mendations, and list of exhibits. 

Don't be confused by the fact that preliminary reports may 
contain many of these same headings. Headings are used in in- 
\estigation reports in the interest of completeness and accinacy. 
Use them if and when you need them. 

Synopsis (7). Note that space is provided on the title page for 
a synopsis. This shoidd be a single paragraph, written in narrative 

186 Basic Police Report ]Vyiting 

style, ^vhich sums uj) the details ot your report, indicates the inves- 
tigative steps thus iar accomplished, and the result you have ob- 
tained. In fact, the synopsis is the essence of your whole report. A 
complete synopsis also will include the value of stolen or damaged 
property; the perpetrator's name, if kno^vn; and the name and ad- 
dress of the victim. FolloAving is an example of a synopsis in a re- 
port of a burglary: 

Investigation reveals that on June 24, 1960, ROBERT R. SMITHS 
entered the GENERAL HARDWARE COMPANY at 3387 Marlow 
St., and took three rifles and two shotguns. On July 9. he was appre- 
hended at his home, 318 Maple Way, Blankville, Calilornia. Smith 
presently is in custody in the Blank Comity Jail. 
Value of property stolen: $780. 
Value of property recovered: $780. 

You should be warned: ^vriting a good synopsis is not easy. It 
requires practice. Yet, since it offers the reviewing officer a "bird's 
eye view" of all of your findings, your time is well spent. A sug- 
gested procedure for wTiting an acceptable synopsis involves care- 
fid reading of your field notes and listing certain sentences which 
seem to sinnmarize various phases of the investigation. After this, 
a niniiber of revisions may be necessary before the essence of your 
investigation is set forth. But once you accomplish a proper synop- 
sis, it becomes an excellent guide to any person who may review 
the investigation or ^vrite a closing report. A good synopsis faci- 
litates subsequent reference and filing of the case. 

Details (8). The"Details"section of the supplementary pro- 
gress report is the same as the "Details" section of the preliminary 
vestigation report. Present a step-by-step narrative of the ^vork 
you did in the case. If your details section is complete, it Avill 
answer the questions essential to the investigation: Who? AVhat? 
When? How? and (probably) Why? As with the heading and 
synopsis, you may complete the details on the title page. On the 
other hand, if yoiu^ report is lengthy, you may continue on the 
reverse side of the title page. If additional paper is required for 
completion, just add pages. 

'Capitalization is used in ciUering the name of the subject and the victim to facilitate 
work in the records division. 

Suf)phn)i('i}l(ny Progress Report 1B7 

Like tlie details section of the preliminary report, your first 
paragraph should contain the basis for tiie investigation. The 
second paragraph will cover your authority for tiie inxestigation. 
Each subsequent paragraph should represent a separate investiga- 
tive step that you took. Number your paragraphs and pages ac- 
curately to provide for subsequent reference to particular pages 
and paragraphs. Follow the basic principals of accuracy, complete- 
ness, brevity, conciseness, fairness, and form. Parentlietical re- 
ference should be made to all exhibits which support the details 
of yoin- report. 

The following rules are applicable to the "Details" section of 
both progress and preliminary investigation reports: 

1. Capitalize all firm names and the name of any person when the 
name is first mentioned in the details of the report. 

2. .\ny subsequent reference to the name of a person may be done by 
use of the last name only. 

3. When subsequent reference is made to a firm name, it is sufficient 
to refer to it by a short name. 

4. When referring to a person who is unknown, make the reference 
as "UNKNOWN, white male," or UNKNOWN, WM" etc. 

5. Precede all women's names with MISS or MRS. 

6. Be very specific when recording time and dates. Example: 9:00 .\.M. 
1-24-60 (Mon.) 

7. When information is obtained from a particular person, set this in- 
formation out in a separate paragraph. Be careful to give the full 
name, title, and address of the person. 

8. Preser\e the secrecy of identity of a confidential informant. For 
example, refer to the person as "I-l," or "1-2" etc. Do not reveal identity 
by including address, occupation, or any other identifying data. 

9. When juveniles are interviewed, indicate in the report that con- 
sent of the parents was obtained. An additional statement as to the 
competency of the child is advisable. 

10. If vou take a statement from a suspect, take it word for word. In- 
clude information as to the place where the statement was taken and 
the present location of the statement. 

11. Statements of witnesses may be recorded in the details section in 
substance, but you should give the exact location of the true statement. 

12. When mentioning an important record in the details of the report, 
include the name of the person who revealed the record, the title of 
the record, and the location, date, and content. If you preserved the 
record as evidence in the case, give the name of the custodian of the 

188 Basic Police Report Writing 

record and infonnatioii rc.^arding the need for a subpoena to obtain 

13. Be specific and detailed in presenting descriptions of person and 
property. (See Appendix C for a detailed explanation of property 

14. Specific details relating to time, place, and identification should be 
given in relation to all facts discovered in the investigation and pre- 
sented in the details of the report. 

Undeveloped Leads (9). An undeveloped lead is an uncon- 
tacted source of information which appears necessary to bring your 
case to a logical conclusion. This part of your report is especially 
helpful to other officers who may ^vork on the case later. Undevel- 
oped leads may exist because you didn't have time to investigate 
further or were unable for other reasons to develop the sources to 
the fullest extent, but you must set them out to indicate to the 
reviewer that you are cognizant of them and have given considera- 
tion to them. Upon revie^ving the report, your commanding officer 
may Avish to make additional assignments to other officers, request- 
ing that they follow up on the leads indicated in your report. A re- 
quest of this kind may describe the character of the lead, the type 
of information desired, and the name and address of the source 
of information. For this reason the information you present must 
be specific, indicating exactly ^vhat information may be expected 
from the lead and Avhere to find it. Any investigator should be 
able to follow your suggestions from the information presented in 
the "Undeveloped Leads" section of your report. 

Here is an example of an "imdeveloped leads" section of a re- 

Further investigation should involve location and interviewing 

Richard A. Roe, 3842 Armond Drive, GL 5-3471. Samuel Howe's 

statement (paragraph 4) indicates that Richard Roe is an associate 

of the suspect and probably was with him on the night the crime was 


Samuel Howe's statement (paragraph 4) further indicates that 

Mary Coe, 2478 Lake Drive, GI-3432, is a girl friend of the suspect. 

Suspect is likely to contact Miss Coe at her apartment and possibly 

tould be apprehended there. 

Conclusions (10). The "Conclusions" section is a controversial 
one. Some agencies require it. Others forbid expression of opinion 

SuppU'iiu-titary Progress Report 


ill ;inv i)aii ol ihc ic])()it. In this niamial we recommend that you 
include a "Conclusions' sec tion unless your dej)arinieni lorhids it. 
When y(ni have conducted a thorough investigation, you should 
be qualified and privileged to say what you think ahcnu it. Yom 
opinions may prove extremely valuable to others who must con- 
tinue the investigation or make important decisions regarding 
])r()secuti()n. You may want to express opinion as to the reliability 
ot witnesses, how certain physical evidence may prove valuable in 
prosecution, weaknesses in the evidence as presented, or the type 
of investigati\ e technique which may produce additional informa- 
tion. Just one warning, when you state your conclusions, be care- 
ful to restate or summarize the facts upon which yoiu" opinions are 
based. Otherwise, yom opinions may be ignored or carry very little 
^^'eight. The following sample statements, with actual names ex- 
cluded, are excerpts from the conclusions section of a supplemen- 
tary progress report: 

Investigating officers are o£ the opinion that the statement of Rich- 
ard Roe (paragraph 6) is not entirely reliable. Mr. Roe and the sus- 
pect were business partners from September of 1948 until January 
of 1957. Investigation further reveals that suspect continues to main- 
tain an interest in the General Hardware Company, owned and 
managed by Richard Roe. If the suspect were convicted under the 
present charge, Richard Roe believes that the suspect would withdraw 
his investment in the firm and the business would ultimately be dis- 

Investigating officers are of the opinion that a detailed audit of the 
books of the General Hardware Company would reveal the suspect's 
actual investment in the firm. 

Recommendations (11). Recommendations logically follow 
conclusions, for the latter section establishes a loasis upon which 
valid recominendations can be made, l^sually, your recommenda- 
tions should relate to the disposition of the case. You may recom- 
mend prosecution, c losing the case, further investigation, or offer 
other suggestions regarding remedial action which may be taken. 
Contrary to the policies of some police agencies, this kind of infor- 
mation is neces.sary to good police work and effective reporting. 
Another ^vord of caution is offered, howe\er. You nuist under- 
stand that both conclusions and recommendations must be given 

190 Basic Police Report IVntnio^ 

witli (he realization that they may be accepted or rejected at the 

discretion of the officer who reviews your report. 

The following statement ^vas taken from the recommendations 

section of a progress report: 

Investigating officers recommend further investigation. Unde- 
veloped leads, indicated earlier, must be followed. The neighborhood 
should be canvassed with a view to locating a witness or witnesses who 
can place the suspect at the scene of the crime. 

List of Exhibits (12). Although a "list of exhibits" takes on a 
more specific meaning in a prosecution report, your attention is 
called to the fact that a progress report can be made more mean- 
ingfid to a reviewing officer if you include this kind of informa- 
tion. W^hen you provide a list of exhibits in the progress report, it 
means that those who revie^v the case will have an opportunity to 
take a first-hand look at important evidence that yoti have gathered 
or will be told where it is located. 

Since original evidence must be kept secure, your actual in- 
closures shoidd include only evidence that can be copied, photo- 
graphed, or photostated. Number each copy in its lo-wer right-hand 
corner and attach it directly to this report. Give each exhibit a 
separate letter, describe it, and tell how it applies to a particidar 
paragraph in the details of the report. Further information should 
explain where the original evidence is located. Examples are as 

Exhibit A: Copy of criminal record of John Doc (paragraph 6) is 

Exhibit B: Copy of a sketch of the crime scene (paragraph 7) is 
attached. Original copy in custody of the evidence clerk. 

Specific Content of the Ending 

As mentioned earlier, the title page of your report provides for 
ending information at the bottom. Like the heading, the ending 
furnishes valuable administrative data. In addition, it fixes re- 
sponsibility for the report. 

Period of Investigation (13). The "period of investigation" 
means the actual time you used in the investigation. It also in- 
cludes all the time you consumed in writing the report. For ex- 
ample, 'Teb. 1,3-7," means that the investigation started on Feb- 

Suppletneutary Progress Rrp<))t 1!II 

niaiy 1. was coiuliu ted on I'chniary .S,4,5,6, and the report and or 
investigation was completed on the 7th. 

Status (14). Status ol the case refers to its condition in rela- 
tion to the department. All cases must be classified as either 
■Peiulint;" or "Closed." CMose the case when the suspect dies, your 
imestigation is complete, or ^vhen yon receive specific orders from 
your superior officer to close it. Classify all other cases as "Pen- 

Date and Time (15). The dale of the report means the actual 
date yoin- report was made. If you ^vrote the report on more than 
one day, the date of completion is the day you should record. If 
you dictated the contents of the report, you should record the date 
of the dictation. The date and time should include the day of the 
month, year, day of the week, and the hour. You may write the 
date and time in either of the following ways: "1/15/60 (Tues.) , 
7::?0 P.M.," "1-15-60, (Tues.) 7:30 P.M.," or "Jan. 15, 1960 
(Tues.), 7:30 P.M." 

Report Made By (16). Sign yoiu' name on the "signature" line. 
This fixes responsibility for the content of the report and serves to 
notify the prosecuting attorney as to his principal witness. Other 
officers ^vho worked on the case, but were not assigned to it, should 
be mentioned in the body of your report. 

Distribution (17). "Distribution" indicates the disposition of 
the original and all copies of the report. Check the distribution 
and mark your report clearly. Direct the original to the records 
di\ision. Carbon copies may be distributed to the detective divi- 
sion and the prosecuting attorney's office, and a final copy may be 
retained for the files of the division where your report originated. 

192 Basic Police Report Writijig 



CASE N0._1S7544. 

OFFENSE GrMd Theft bate and TiME_Febi_8i_125?i_2l4_Q_P!lL_ 

*.»'*■* _*>«A.x. COMMI TIED 

NAME OF VICTIM Eve rett L. Rex address Tecuiii3eli^_Kajaaaa — __ — 



At 9:49 P.M., 2-8-59, reporting officers received a call to investigate a theft 
at Room 109, Blankville Inn. Contacted the victim, Mr. Everett L. Rex., of Route 1, 
Teoumseh, Kansas and Gold City Motel, 1951 West 8th Ave., City. Victim stated that 
he had taken a waitress by the name of "Kathy" (WFA, 23, blond hair, 5'7", 131 lbs) 
to the Blankville Inn in an Ace cab driven by a "George". They were to spend the 
night. Upon returning from the shower at approximately 9=40 P.M., the girl had left 
and his watch (valued at $25) and thirteen $20 bills ($260) were missing. Later 
contacted Mary Helen Sobel at 2011 Elm St. She and two female companions accompanied 
reporting officers to the Gold City Motel where the victim identified Mary Helen Sobel 
as the girl who was with him at the Blankville Inn at the time the money and watch 
were taken. 

Value of property stolen $235. 

(1) 10:15 A.M., 2-9-59, reporting officers contacted the local cab companies 
and learned that an ACE CAB, driven by ROBERT HHIN, had been dispatched to the 
Blankville Inn to pick up a female passenger who had asked for "Bob" personally. 

(2) 10:30 A.M., 2-9-59, reporting officers talked with cab driver, ROBERT HEEN, 
at the ACE CAB COMPANY, 782 Mathis Ave. Hem related that "Kathy" made a personal 
call for him to go to the Inn; later when she called upon leaving the Inn, he dropped 
her off at 3th and Roberts Ave. He stated she paid him with a $20 bill. He also stated 
that the fare was $2.10, arxi she gave him a $2.40 tip. Hem claims he does not know 
the girl very well but worked with her previously at HERMAN'S CLUB. He related that 

she might live at 20th and Elm Sts, 



date____2-9.t5.9 TIME ^.;00 P.M. 

XOniciiNAL - HECOROS Division 

XC.C. - DET. Division STAVUS EeaOlng. 

C.C. -DiST. Attv. Office 

S I GNATURE df-^,^ / {^. ~y\/c. ^<^at^'c-^-^ 

. I GNATU«E/_:^^^__'^..^^^£i:> 


Supplementary Progress Report 193 

Case #137546 Page 2 

(3) 11:15 A.M., reporting officers talked with NEW=LL CRa.'ffiLL, bartender for 
Herman's Club at 1016 5th 3t. Crowell stated that "Kathy" t'jndled bar from 2 P.M. to 
6 P.M., 2-8-59. He also said that he did not know her last name nor where she lives. 
He stated tliat the owner of the PiiNGUIN CLUB at 817 4th Ave. would know where she now 
lives . 

(4) 11:35 A.M., reporting officers talked with H^iRJ'IAN HiiiK, owner of Herman's 
Club and the Penguin Club. Mr. Hem stated he did not know the blond's name nor 
where she lives. He stated that she previouslj' worked for him and was fired because 
she and Robert iiern (the cab driver and also his nephew) were going out together and 
did not take care of the business at the bar. 

(5) 1:35 P.M., reporting officers contacted the owner of the apartments at 
2011 Elm St., i:r. ROBJIT T. ROMAN, FL 2-2A93, of IO36 Stem Court. He related that 
a "Kathy" was living at 2011 Elm St., apartment #5 and that her description was the 
s-imo or similar to that of the suspect. Roman stated that he had last seen the 
subject at the apartment house on Friday, Feb. 6th. 

(6) 2:50 P.M., reporting officers contacted Kathy Roe (19), Bernice '.•.'illiams 
(18), and Jr.ckie Roe (22) at 2011 Elm St. In response to questioning by reporting 
officers, the thras ^^irls related that they had been to a movie together on the 
evening of 2-8-59. Jickie Roo and Bemice Willia-3 stited that they c?-Tie hme early 
in t'ne evening, rlathy Roe said that they saw the movie twice and returned horns rather 
late. She stated furtiier tt^t her true name is I'^ry Helen Sobel and sutmittod identi- 
fics^tion bearing the sajLe name. Reporting officers observed that the blond (Kathy 
Roe), '.'slt/ Helen Sobel, answered the description of the suspect and asked the three 
subjects to accompany than to the Gold City Motel where the victim is living. 

(7) 3:55 P.M., reporting officers contacted the victim and asked him to observe 
the above three subjects. Mr. Rex stated that M-^ry Helen Sobel (Kathy Roe) looked 
exactly like tb.e suspect and that she was the girl who was with him at the Blankville 
Inu at the time the money and watch were taken, Kr. Rex furtiier stated tliat he will 
be in the office of the chief of detectives at-9 A.M., 2-10-59 to go to the District 
Attorney's Office to sign a complaint. 


VATy Ellen Sobel (alias Kathy Roe) of 2011 Elm St. is the girl whom the victim 
met at the Surb Club and who later accompanied the victim to Room 1C9 of the Blankville 
Inn. She is also the person who tock the victim's watch and S26C in cash. 


Reporting officers recommend that the case retiain open, pending the filing of a 
complaint by the victim and further investigation. It is further recommended that 
y'Ary Ellen Sobel, Jackie Roe, Bemice Williaff'S, and the cab driver, Robert Heni,be 
interrogated extensively regarding discrepancies in their statements. 

Chapter XVII 



N THE MATTER OF REPORTING investigations, most police agencies 
have discovered that the standard supplementary investigation re- 
port form, such as Form 20, is not completely adequate for record- 
ing special procedures applied in the investigation. This is true 
when investigators need to place special emphasis on the obtaining 
of detailed descriptions of suspects from witnesses and victims, 
suspects are presented in a line-up, physical evidence is examined 
in the crime laboratory, the suspect is subjected to a polygraph 
test, or the social backgroimd of a child is investigated in a juve- 
nile case. This chapter presents the forms and content of forms 
necessary to the reporting of these specialized phases of an investi- 


The "Suspect Description Sheet," Form 21, is a supplemen- 
tary investigation form designed to assist you, as the investigator, 
in getting a complete and accurate description of a suspect in a 
systematic manner. You may also use it for witnesses or victims to 
record in their own hand^vriting descriptions of the suspects. 
After it is signed by a witness or victim, it is made a part of the 
investigation report and can be used at a later date, if necessary, to 
refresh the memory of the witness or victim. If this technique is 
used, the witness or victim experiences some difficidty in denying 
the description as the one he ga\'e at the time of the crime Avas com- 
mitted. A physical description picture such as that presented in 
Figure 6 may assist the witness in being more specific. 

In obtaining the description, be systematic; get as many de- 
tails as you can: race, sex, age, height, weight, hair, eyes, complex- 
ion, build, etc. The subject's physical characteristics, mannerisms, 
posture, movement, attire, and even speech are important. Don't 


special StijyplcmciittnY I iivrstii^iilion Reports 





Case No. 

Time and Date Offense Committed: 



Color: (4) Sex: _ (5) _ Age: _ (6) _ 

Hcioht: (7) Weight (8) 

Hair: (9) Eyes: (10) 

Ears: (11) 

Nose: (12) 

Mouth: (13) 

Teeth : (14) 

Chin: (15) 

Build: (16) 

Complexion: (17) 

Voite-Speech: (18) 

Gloves: . 
I rousers: 


Jeweh\ — Watdies: 



^Veapons &: Equipment: (23) 





Hat or Cap: 

Shirt or Sweater: 

Tie or Scarf: 

Coat or Jacket: 




\ehicle I'sed: 


Submitted bv: 

Time & Date: 

Received bv: 








Note: If additional space needed for any of the above, use reverse side. 
Form 21. Suspect Description Sheet (8l/2"xH") . 



Basic Police Report Writing 


Should you be attacked, defrauded or for any reason be suspicious of 
someone , obtain all information indicated below and immediately notify 
the POLICE or the SHERIFF. 



color, type 


color, sport, dress 


color, type, style 

color, type, style 





If vehicle involved complete the following information 
License number ( all or partial ) 

moke year body type color number occupants (male,female) 

Fig. 6. Physical Description Picture. In your efforts to get an adequate de- 
scription of a suspect from a witness, you may find that presenting him this 
kind of picture will help him to recall many of the physical characteristics of 

the individual. 

special Supplementary Investigation Reports 107 




If weapon is used circle or check picture most similar to type used by suspect. 

Fig. 7. Physical Description of Weapon. \Vhen a witness experiences difficulty 
in expressing the type of weapon used. ask. him to circle ihe appropriate 

weapon on tiie sheet. 

198 Basic Police Report Writing 

trust your memory; it can deceixe you. Be sure to include every- 
thing, every detail, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at 
the time. The agility and movements of the subject are important. 
These characteristics frecjuently assist in determining the age of 
the subject or in determining various body ailments. A complete 
discussion of each item necessary to the "Suspect Description 
Sheet" follows. 

Offense (1) 

The offense is the same as that which appears on the complaint 

Case Number (2) 

Get the case ninnber from the case sheet or the complaint log. 

Time and Date Offense Committed (3) 

Record the same time and date as entered on the "Complaint 

Color (4) 

Color indicates the race of the subject. This is usually apparent. 
However, there are a few instances Avhen full head masks and 
gloves might make it impossible for the witness or victim to de- 
termine the race of the suspect. In this kind of situation, try to 
determine the race of the suspect from the witness' description of 
the suspect's mannerisms and speech. Record the race as Avhite. 
black, yellow, etc. 

Sex (5) 

Enter the sex as male or female. This, of course, is usually ap- 
parent to the sight. However, there are times when a man may im- 
personate a woman, or a woinan may impersonate a man. In these 
situations, the sex must be determined by mannerisms and speech. 

Age (6) 

Record the age as "36 years," "45 years," etc. It is often difficult 
to obtain an acctirate estimate of age from a victim or Avitness. 
However, if several descriptions of the suspect are available, arrive 
at an average for the age. As stated earlier, agility and movements 
may prove helpfid in determining age. 

Spccidl Siil)j)U'tn('nt(n\ f iivr.sti;j,<itl(>n Rrjjort.s 199 

Height (7) 

State tlie height as 510," 5'11," etc. Ask the witness to deter- 
mine lieioht by comjjaring the suspect with someone of known 
height, n several wunesses give an estimate of height, take a 
general average. 

Weight (8) 

Use the same techniques in arriving at an accurate estimate of 
weight as for the height. 

Hair (9) 

Describe the suspect's hair as light, medium, dark, brown, 
black, blonde, red, gray, ^vhite, red-brown, salt and pepper, etc. It 
may be described further as long, short, thin, thick, or curly. 
Describe the hairline as square, pointed, rounded, higher on one 
side, etc. 

With the new hair dyes available, it is possible for a suspect to 
dye his (her) hair in just a few minutes, and the dye can be washed 
out in even less time. On the other hand, many sprays and quick- 
drying dyes make the hair appear sticky, which in most cases is 
apparent on close observation. 

Eyes (10) 

The suspect's eyes may be described as to color, shape, size, and 
luuisual characteristics. Describe the color of the pupil as blue, 
hazel, grey, brown, maroon, etc. Size may be described as small or 
large. Peculiarities may include close set, far apart, slanted, etc. 

Glasses or contact lens are just about the only means by which 
eyes can be disguised. However, the use of certain eye drops and 
drugs can cause the pupils to expand or contract. The shape of 
the eyes can be changed by the use of Hesh-colored transparent ad- 
hesive tape or by reshaping the eyebrows. 

Ears (11) 

A thorough description ol the suspect's ears can be one of the 
better means of identification. Ask the witness to describe the 
general shape and size, the ear lobes, and whether the ears are set 
close to the head or stand out from the head. 

200 Basic Police Report Writing 

Nose (12) 

The nose should be described as Roman, pug, turned up, long, 
small, large, broad, etc. 

Mouth (13) 

Describe the mouth as large, small, wide, thick lips, hair lip, 

Teeth (14) 

Ask the Avitness for only the peculiar or outstanding charac- 
teristics of the teeth, such as sharp, short, long, broken, gold, 
braced, stained, inieven, missing, etc. 

The teeth may be altered by the use of putty, false teeth, tooth 
caps, and gum pads. Ho\vever, the use of tooth caps and gum pads 
has a tendency to cause slight impediments of speech. 

Chin (15) 

The chin should be described only as to shape: square, broad, 
narrow, pointed, long, deep cleft, shallow cleft, etc. 

Build (16) 

Build should be presented as small, large, mediimi, slender, 
stocky, slimiped, large stomach, small waisted, etc. 

Complexion (17) 

Don't confuse complexion with the racial coloring of the sidj- 
ject. Describe the complexion as light, dark, mediiuii, sallow, pale, 
ruddy, white, flushed, scarred or pitted, splotched, pimply, etc. 

Voice or Speech (18) 

The voice or speech of the suspect may be described as edu- 
cated, uneducated, loud, low, high, shrill, deep, lisp, foreign, ac- 
cent, etc. The suspect may have used certain expressions repeat- 
edly; record these. 

Movements (19) 

Ask the witness if the suspect's movements Avere slow, fast, 
nervous, calm, direct, confused, hesitant, etc. Attempt to deter- 

special Sul)l)lrincnt(n\ Invest I ;j;ati())} Rrpcjrts 


niiiic any j)C( uliar luanncrisins: pullin.u, on the car lobe, scratching 
the head, rubhini; ilie eyes or forehead, shufflino tlie feet, use of 
the hands to emphasize commands or speech, etc. 

Posture (20) 

Postine should be described as normal, erect, slouchy, round- 
shouldered, etc. 

Scars and Marks (21) 

Attempt to obtain specific information from the ^vitness. De- 
scribe all visible scars, tattoos, moles, warts, birthmarks, missing 
fingers, deformities, etc. Give the location as exactly as possible. 

Attire (22) 

Describe clothing generally as to color, material, style, new, 
old, clean, dirty, worn, etc. Have the witness describe the suspect's 
clothing systematically from head to foot as follows: (1) hat or 
cap, (2) shirt or sweater, (3) tie or scarf, (4) coat or jacket, (5) 
gloves, (6) trousers, (7) socks, (8) shoes, and (9) jewelry and 
watch. A number of agencies have developed a hand-out descrip- 
tion sheet such as that presented as Figure 6. Asking the witness to 
complete this sheet may be helpful in the description of clothing. 

Weapons and Equipment (23) 

Many witnesses experience great difficulty in describing Avea- 
pons. A description slieet of weapons such as that presented in 
Figure 7. may prove helpful. If a gun Avas used in the crime, ask the 
witness to describe it as a rifle, revolver, automatic pistol, or shot- 
gun. Equipment might include acetylene torch, explosives, etc. 

Vehicle Used (24) 

Ask for as detailed a description of the vehicle as possible: 
make, year, body type, color, number of occupants, sex of occu- 
pants, accessories, body damage, etc. 

Remarks (25) 

In the "Remarks" section, list any additional information that 
will assist in identifying the suspect. 

202 Basic Police Report Writing 

Submitted By (26) 

Ask tlie witness or victim to sign his name on the line, "Sub- 
mitted By." 

Time and Date (27) 

Record the time and date that the witness submitted the infor- 

Received By (28) 

Sign your own name here. If some other officer received the 
description from the witness or victim, ask him to sign the "Sus- 
pect Description Sheet." 

Date (29) 

Record the month, day, and year that you received the descrip- 
tive data. (Submit this special supplementary report along with 
either the preliminary investigation report or regular supplemen- 
tary report. 


In all criminal offenses in which suspects are apprehended and 
the victim or witnesses were able to observe the perpetrator, sus- 
pects should be identified by the victims or witnesses at the earliest 
possible moment, wiiile the appearance of the criminal is fresh in 
their minds. Standard procedure requires that the identification 
shall be made from a group of suspects rather than a single indivi- 
dual. At least one of the subjects used in the line-up should be 
quite similar to the suspect in appearance and dress. Others should 
vary in height, build, age, complexion, and other physical charac- 
teristics. This technique makes the final identification of the sus- 
pect more positive. 

If you are the detective assigned to the case, follo^v the above 
simple rules in arranging the line-up. In addition, have a group 
photograph made of the subjects and suspects as they are assembled 
in the line-up. The picture, which presents positive proof of the 
position of the suspect in the line-up, may be used as evidence if 
the suspect is identified by the victim or witnesses. 

special SuppU'inetitmy I ncrslr^dlion liclxirls 


I'sc ihc ••Suspect Line-Up Report, ' Foini 22, to record the 
names of the subjects, suspects, victims, or witnesses and the results 
of the identification. Prepare the form in two or more copies: 
forward the original to the records division and retain a copy for 
the detective division files. Fhe following discussion offers a more 
detailed explanation of the items contained in the report. 

Date (1) 

Give the month, day, and year the report was made. 

Victim (2) 

Record the name of the victim only in cases in which the in- 
jured party is an actual person. Leave the line blank if the victim 
is a firm or corporation. 

Complaint Number (3) 

Give the complaint or case number as shown on the "Com- 
plaint Sheet." 

Arrest Number (4) 

Record the arrest number assigned to the suspect on his "Re- 
cord of Arrest." 

Time and Date (5) 

Enter the exact time and date that the line-up took place, for 
example, "9:50 A.M., January 7, 1960." 

List of Subjects Used in Line-Up (6) 

Present the full names of all subjects used in the line-up. 

Position Numbers of Suspects (7) 

Ciive the niunber of the position of each suspect in the line- 

Identifying Witnesses-Identified Number (8) 

Present a complete list of names of all witnesses and the number 
of the subject or suspect that ea( h witness identified. 


204 Basic Police Report W riling 




Rl;mk\illc, California 

Date (1) . 19 . 

Victim (2) Complaint ^ (3) 

Arrest # (4) 

This line-up took place at (time) (5) M. on 19 

at Police Headquarters, Blankville, California. 

The line-up was composed of the following persons and their positions according 
to number as indicated below: 


Suspects are numbers (7) 

Identifying Witnesses Identified Number 


Photographed by -(9). 

Signed by (10) Rank 

(Make five (5) copies) 
Form 22. Suspect Line-Up Form (8i/o"xU") . 

Sp('(i(il Suj)l)!('iiiciit(n\ Ini'C.sli<!,(ili()H Relents 205 

Photographed By (0) 

Enter the name of the identification officer or jailer who made 
the i)h()tof>Taj)h of the subjects and suspects in the Hne-up. 

Signed By-Rank (10) 

Comj)lete the rej)ort by entering your signature and rank. 


If you are the polygraph ojierator, use the ••Polygram Enve- 
lope, " Form 23, for reporting a sunnnary of your specialized phase 
of a criminal investigation. This (S"x5" manila envelope is useful 
for protecting and filing the polygram and facilitates the com- 
pletion of your monthly report. 

After performing a polygraph examination, pre})are in dupli- 
cate a regular supplementary investigation report, Form 20, and 
complete all applicable space on the face of the "PolygTam Enve- 
lope:" case and jDolygTam examination numbers; date; name, ad- 
dress, phone ninnber, age, sex, and color of the subject; the crime 
charged; criminal record of the suspect; questioned before the 
examination; questioned on the polygraph; confession obtained; 
other crimes admitted; property reco\ ered, and a general smnmary 
of the examination results. 


Case No. — E)ate Examination No 

Name Address 

Phone Age „ Sex Color 

Crime Charged — 

Criminal Record ^ 

Questioned Before the Examination 

Questioned on Polygraph 

Clonfession Obtained 

Other Crimes Admitted 

Property Recovered 

Smnmarv of Examination Results 

Plea: Result of Trial: 

Form 23. Polygnini Kinclope (8"x;)") 

206 Basic Police Report Writing 

Place the cliij)li(ate copy of the supplementary investigation re- 
j^ort, along with all polygrams on the same person and the same 
case, in the "Polygram Envelope," and file the latter in your files 
according to the polygraph examination number. For^vard the 
original of the supplementary investigation report to the records 
division where it will be filed with other investigation reports in 
the case. 

The results of the plea and trial ^\'ill be reported later. Record 
tiiis information on the face of the "Polygram Envelope" when you 
receive it. Space is provided at the bottom of the form for your 
signature as the polygraph operator. 


When evidence is received in tlie crime laboratory, the tech- 
nician in charge initiates the "Report of Laboratory Examina- 
tion," Form 24. From evidence tags or envelopes he records, in 
duplicate, the type of case, case ninnber, victim, the date the case 
was reported, and the date the evidence was received in the labora- 
tory. After entering his own name on the line "Assignment Made 
By," he records the name of the technician to whom the assign- 
ment was made. 

If you are the laboratory technician who received the assign- 
ment, enter in detail a description of the evidence submitted, and 
note its condition, a summary of the examinations conducted, and 
a synopsis of the results obtained. In addition, enter in an e\ idence 
ledger a description of the evidence, the nature of the examina- 
tions, and the results obtained. Forward the original "Report of 
Laboratory Examination" to the field investigator who requested 
the examination, and file the duplicate in the laboratory files. 

The field investigator attaches the laboratory report to the 
original of his field investigation; thus the laboratory report be- 
comes a vital document in the case file. 


Previous discussion has emphasized the fact that criminal com- 
plaints and investigations involving juveniles are handled in the 
same manner as cases in\'olvino adult ofienders. On the other hand. 

special Sii j)l)lcmr)il(nx I nvcslii^dlio)! licjxiyts 207 


Type of Case . Case Nunil)er 

^■illi'^l . ^ Address 

Assignment Made by: 
AssisnnuMit Nfade to: 

Description of E\i(lence: 

Condition of Evidence: 

Examinations Conducted: 

Dale Rcporled Date Evidence Received 

Exaininalion Re(]uested by: __^ 

Results of Examinations: 

Signature Date Hour _ 

Form 24. Report of Laboratory Examination (Si/o'xH") 

208 Basic Police Report Wriliitir 

progressive police agencies recognize the need to investigate the 
social aspects of any case involving a juvenile either as a suspect or 
victim. The investigation of the social aspects of the case is a 
specialized task assigned to an officer of the juvenile division. After 
the investigation of the criminal aspects of the case is complete, 
juvenile officers look into the cause of delinquent conduct with a 
view to intelligent referral to other agencies '^vhich can help the 
child solve his problems and become a normal, useful person. 

The "Juvenile Case History," Form 25, guides the juvenile 
officer in recording personal data regarding the juvenile, his family 
history, associates, parents, and commimity environment. Once the 
social investigation and "Juvenile Case History" are complete, 
this permanent record, maintained in the juvenile division, as- 
sists the officer in making an intelligent referral, both in the pre- 
sent and future cases in which the juvenile may be involved. 

If you are the juvenile officer assigned to the case investigation, 
complete the "Juvenile Case History" in conjunction with the 
over-all investigation and interviews ^vith the parents, school 
authorities, and the child. 

Note that the form is presented in five parts: (1) heading, (2) 
family history, (3) friends, (4) parents, and (5) child. 

Heading (1) 

In the heading, record your name and the date. Enter the 
name, birth date, sex, address, phone ntmiber, race, religion, birth- 
place, school, and school gTade of the juvenile under investigation. 
Complete this section of the report by entering the name of the 
person with ^vhom the child is living, along with the length of time 
he has resided at that location. 

Family History (2) 

The "Family History" section provides for the name, age, ad- 
dress (business and home address of father and mother) , religion, 
and occupation of the father, mother, and other members of the 

Friends (3) 

As the investigation and inter\iews re\eal the identity of as- 
sociates, enter the name, age, address, and school each is attending. 

special Supplcinrntdyy hi.'t'sliij^^alion Rrporls 


)r\ F.Mi.E him or^ 

|r\ KMI.F. 1)I\ ISION 

Name _ 


Living With 





place . 



. Phone 
In Citv 

In Countv 
In State 

_ Grade 

How Long? 

Age Address Religion 



Bus. Address Father _ 
Others in Household 




Age Address 



Form 25. Juvenile Case History (8i/2"xir') (Front) 


Basic Police Report Writitjg 

Living Together? 

Separated? F. Add _ 

Divorced? F. Add _ 

Dead F. Date-Cause 

Drini^ing: Father 

Mental: Father 

AVorking: Father 

Habits: Father 


How Long? 

M. Add . 

M. Add 

M. Date-Cause 





Number Arrests and Reasons 



Adventure . 

Sex Curiosity 

Sex Abnormality 

Need Employment 


Gang Activity 

Comnuuiity Hazard 

Adult Influence 


Form 25. Juvenile Case History (Reverse) 

Sfx'ddl Suj)l)lvmc)it(n\ I iivc.^ti Ligation lirjxiyls 211 

Parents (4) 

The "Parents" section is designed to reveal tiie attitudes, hab- 
its, and oeneral living conditions provided by the parents, which 
he(inently (ontrihute lo dcliiKiuenc y on the part ol the child. 
Answer the following (piestions: Are the i)arents living together? 
How long? Separated? Divorced? Is the father dead? C:aiise? Is the 
mother dead? Cause? Does the father and /or mother drink? What 
is the mental (ondition of ])oth the father and mother? Does the 
father and ^)r mother work? What are the general habits of the 
father and mother? 

Child (5) 

The section on the "Child" involves an attempt to summarize 
the criminal record of the juvenile, along with the attitudes, habits, 
and environmental influences ^vhich seem to have influenced or 
caused his antisocial behavior. 

Summary Supplementary Report 

Use a general supplementary report, Form 20, to report a sum- 
mary of your findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Re- 
commendations made in this final summary report serve as a 
basis for ultimate decision as to the disposition of the juvenile in 
the case. Make at least one duplicate copy of both the "Juvenile 
Case History" and final summary report so that a complete set of re- 
ports may be forwarded to the juvenile court, probation depart- 
ment, or case work agency to which the juvenile is referred. 

Chapter XV 111 


FTER THE INVESTIGATION OF A MAJOR casc is Complete, if yoii 
are the in\estigating officer, it becomes your duty to prepare a 
prosecution report for tlie prosecutor. The prosecutor is the per- 
son who represents you and presents the people's case to the court. 
He is part of the people's team and complete cooperation is neces- 

Many departments do not require prosecution reports from 
their officers; it appears that the use of these reports is not only 
valuable to the administrator and supervisory personnel of the 
department but of great help to you in presenting the case to the 
prosecutor. If the facts necessary to prove a case are placed before 
the prosecutor in brief, concise form; and if he is able to extract 
the important points ^vithout reading through many pages of re- 
ports, it is much easier for him to understand the case and to reach 
a prompt conclusion as to prosecution. 

When you investigate a case involving a death, you also shoidd 
forward a copy of the report to the coroner or medical examiner. 
Inquests must be held in all coroner cases, and the information 
you have developed may be of value in the determinations of the 
coroner's jury. You may be required to give testimony in such 
cases, and your testimony will be based on the same facts as those 
prepared for the prosecutor's office. 

If you set forth the necessary facts in proper sequence and in 
brief form, the prosecutor or the coroner may ask questions as 
necessary and review the entire case in a very short time. In assist- 
ing the prosecutor in the preparation of the case, it is your respon- 
sibility to provide all information necessary to justify a complaint 

'Information for this chapter was adapted from Chapter \'II. Flovd X. Heffron: 
Ex'idence for the patrohnan, Springfield, Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1938. with 
consent of the publisher. 

and tlu' issuaiuc ul a warrant, oi the inloi iii.ti ion necessary loi |)ie- 
sentation to a ^rand jnry. Alter the complaint or indie iiiieiit lias 
been filed and the warrant ol arrest executed, yon must then supply 
all inlormation necessary For successful presentation of the case in 



To do this, j)rosecution reports, sucli as Form 26, are nee essary 
and should l)e used in the al)sence of departmental orders to the 
contrary. To be of value to both you and the prosecutor, these re- 
ports shoidd follow a set pattern, corresponding to the prosecution 
sequence as nearly as possible. The report should present the neces- 
sary points in a maimer similar to the presentation in the follow- 
ing discussion. It should, like other operational reports, inc hide a 
heading, body, and ending. Not all points "will have to be included 
in every report, but all necessary elements must be presented in 
order to outline the case properly for the prosecutor. 

Heading of the Report 

The heading of the report should include: (1) the type of of- 
fense; (2) the date and time the offense was committed; (3) name, 
address, and brief description of the suspect; (4) criminal record 
of the suspect, if any (if extensive, attach the criminal record sheet 
to the report and so indicate; (5) name and address of the victim; 
(6) name and address of the complainant; and (7) your name, 
fjadge number, precinct, and department. 

Ending of the Report 

The ending of the report, which is contained on the first sheet, 
will include: (1) the distribution of the ccjpies of the report, (2) 
the status of the case, (3) the date and time the report is submitted, 
and (4) a place for your personal signature. 

Body of the Report 

The bcjdy of the report, Avhich immediately follows the heading 
information, should contain: (1) the reasons for the change, (2) 
a list of witnesses, and (!^) the list of exhibits. 

Reasons for the Charge. The "reasons for the charge" section 


Basic Police Report Writing 

is a brief statement of the ciiarge and the reason for it. In order 
for you to justify a complaint or a criminal charge, the report must 
show that all of the elements of the offense are present, and that 
you believe that the suspect did commit the act. If all of the ele- 
ments necessary to establisli the corpus delicti of the offense are not 
present, the prosecutor will necessarily alter the charge to cor- 
respond to the elements present. 





Case No. 

Date and Time . 


Criminal Record of Suspect 

Reasons for the Charge: 

Form 26. Prosecution Report (8i/9"xH") 

I'indl liwcstii^ation licfjuyls -15 

Example: "Burglary:" John Doc entered the residence occupied by 
Henry Roe and family at 1234 Jay St., City, between the hour of 9:30 
P.M. and 11:30 P.M. on Wed., Oct. 26, 1959, without permission and 
with the intent to commit theft (indicated by extensive search) , l)y 
use of force applied to a bedroom window, and was apprehended by 
Officers Black and White as he left the premises. 

Yoli should note that all of the elements necessary to e.stablish 
the c()rj)iis delicti tor •burglary" and the degree of the crime are 
present in the above brief resume. Elements present are: 

1. Ihat John Doe, suspect, did enter an occupied dwelling during 
the nighttime. (To establish the offense and the degree.) 

2. That he entered without permission and by use of force. (Force 
is not always necessary.) 

3. With intent to commit theft. (Implied by the act of searching 
the premises.) 

In most states these elements are sufficient to establish the of- 
fense and the degree of the offense. Other information included in 
the above paragraph, showing how the suspect was apprehended, 
further corroborates the offense charged. 

List of Witnesses. Under this heading, you should list all 
known witnesses at the time of the report and give a brief state- 
ment to show their relation to the offense and the testimony that 
can be given by each. 

Example: "Burglary." 

1. ROE, HENRY, occupant of 1234 Jay St.. will testify as follows: 
That at 8:30 P.M. on Wed., October 26, 1959, he and Mrs. Roe left 
their residence: that at that time the residence was properly secured, 
doors and windows locked, and the bedroom window was not broken; 
that the drawers, closets, and cabinets were in their normal orderly 
condition; that when he returned shortly after 11:30 P.M. he found 
that the bedroom window had been forced, and the house had been 
ransacked; that screw driver found on the kitchen table, after the 
crime had been discovered, was not his property and was not on the 
table when he left the house; that he observed the suspect in custody 
of Officer Black, but did not recognize him as anyone he knew or had 
ever given permission to enter their dwelling. 

2. OFFICER WHITE, JOSEPH, badge 317, precinct 7, will testify as 
follows: That about 8:30 P.M., on Wed., Oct: 26, 1959, while on patrol 
beat 16, he observed people leaving the residence at 1234 Jay St., that 
aljoul 11:30 P.M. while again passing the residence, he obsened an 

216 Basic Police Report Writiiig 

open bedroom window; that he approaclied the window and Officer 
Black covered the opposite side of the house; that shortly after arriving 
at the open window. Officer Black called to him, and he ran around 
the house to Officer Black's position: that on arrival he observed that 
Officer Black had a man in custody; that the suspect was searched, 
secured, and left in custody of Officer Black; that White then entered 
and searched the interior of the residence; that no other person was 
found on the premises and although the house had Ijeen searched, it 
appeared that nothing had been taken; that an identification expert 
was requested, and Sgt. Roy Jones responded; that a screw driver found 
on the kitchen table could not be identified by Mr. Roe, and this was 
marked for identification and turned over to Sgt. Jones on his arrival; 
that White wrote the report. 

3. OFFICER BLACK, RALPH, badge 643. precinct 7, will testify as 
follows; That his testimony will be basically the same as that given by 
Officer White up to the time they approached the house after noticing 
the open bedroom window: that he apprehended the suspect, John 
Doe, as the latter left the premises by way of the back door; that he 
transported the prisoner to jail and booked him for investigation of 

4. SERGEANT JONES, ROY, badge 27, Identification Officer, will 
testify as follows: That latent prints found on top surface of the dres- 
ser in the bedroom, near the point of entry, are the fingerprints of the 
suspect, Jolin Doe; that the screw driver, turned over to him by Officer 
White, has the same shape and size as the tool used to force the win- 
dow in question and could be the tool used for this purpose; that cri- 
minal records indicate that the suspect was previously convicted of 
burglary in Jan., 1957, and served a term in State Prison as a result. 
(Copy of criminal record attached.) 

List of Exhibits. The prosecution report should contain an 
accinate account of all evidence relating to the offense. It is not 
your responsibility to determine whether the evidence is relevant 
or material and whether it can be introduced or established. This 
is the diuy of the prosecutor, but he must have a complete report 
of all evidence before he can determine its value. You can generally 
determine the value of evidence, if you are experienced, but e\en 
though yoin" kno^vledge of e\ iclence is better than average, you 
should set forth all information on each bit of e\ idence for the 
prosecutor to consider. Oftentimes, articles of e\idence that do 
not appear to have any diret t connection \\'\x\\ the offense ^vill he 
of value to the prosectition. if the defense lays the groundAvork for 
its admission. 

Fitial I)i\iesli<^(iti<))i Reports 217 

Each article of evidence and the package in which ii is pack- 
aged, shcndd be oiven a letter corresponding to the secpience in 
which it was fonnd. In the report itself, give a brief descrijjtion of 
the article, including by whom and where it was marked for identi- 
fication, and the number of the package in which it can be found. 
List each piece of evidence in a secpience correspcmding to the 
package ninnbers. 

Include a general description of the location of the e\idence 
when found and its location in relation to other evidence found at 
the scene. (Measurements to show its exact location should be con- 
sidered as i^art of your personal notes. You must be able to show 
the location of the evidence ^vhen the case is presented in court.) 

If you took measurements by triangulation, this should be 
noted. If it ^vas necessary to take them by some other method, the 
reason should be explained. For measurements of any distance 
longer than normal reac h, which require one person on each end 
of the tape, give the name of the other person. Also explain how the 
measurements were verified; for example, 'Triangidation meas- 
urements taken by Officer Brown (317) and White (914) and 
\erified by altering positions and rechecking." 

State the time the evidence ^vas found in relation to the time 
of the offense; Avhether it was found on arrival, during the search 
subsequent to arrival, or later during the investigation; the name 
and badge number of the officer or the name and address of any 
other person who foiuid the e\ idence and can testify. 

If photographs were taken, give the name of the person ^vho 
photographed the crime scene and the articles of evidence. In 
brief, give the number and sequence of the pictures taken. 

When a rough reproduction of the original crime scene is a\ ail- 
able, submit a copy with your report. Show the base points and in- 
clude the articles of evidence to indicate the scene area and the lo- 
cation of the evidence. Give the name and badge nmnber of the 
officer Avho prepared the original sketch. Also include identifying 
information on those ^vho assisted. 

It is assumed that j)ersons who found e\ idence at the scene can 
establish that fact. You shoidd l)e especially carefid to include the 
name and other identifying information relating to any witness 

218 Basic Police Report Writing 

who can identily the evidence as stolen property or property be- 
longing to the suspect, etc. This part of evidence identification is 
often important in the prosecution of a case and more difficult to 
establish than other facts. The means used by the witness to iden- 
tify an article are most important; include this information in the 
report. The following is a list of exhibits in a robbery report: 

Exhibit A. 

Man's, Y.M., Bulova, w.w. No. 1368739, widi brown leather band, 

bearing monogram initials, F.N.H., on the back, can be identified by: 

a. HUGHES, FRED N., Victim as having been taken from his person 
by unknown suspect in a robbery on Tues. evening, Dec. 15, 1959. 
Identification by monogram initials on back. 

b. CASH, E. R., pawn broker, as having been purchased from suspect. 
Smith, for $2.50 on Wed.. Dec. 16, 1959. Idenfified by serial number. 

c. GREEN, OFFICER JOE, as identified from APB description and 
numbers on Dec. 20, 1959, and recovered by him from Cash on that 

Exhibit B. 

Man's signet ring, Y.M., with black stone, bearing initial "H" in Y.M., 

can be identified by: 

a. HUGHES, FRED N., victim, as property taken from his person dur- 
ing robbery on December 15, 1959. 

b. GREENE, OFFICER, JOE, as having been found on the person of 
suspect. Smith, at the time of his arrest, Dec. 20, 1959. 

Your prosecution report is intended to familiarize the prosecu- 
tor with the basic facts of the case so he can determine Avhether 
there is sufficient evidence on which to base a complaint or infor- 
mation. After the Avarrant has been issued, it must be served on the 
defendant; and the case is generally set for a preliminary hearing. 
The information that you set forth in this report should be suffi- 
cient to present at the preliminary hearing. The magistrate con- 
ducting the preliminary hearing need only satisfy himself that just 
cause exists to hold the defendant for trial or for grand jury action. 


Between the time of the preliminary hearing and the trial of 
the case or presentation to the grand jiny, you, as the investigator, 
^vill have a sreat amount of ^vork to do. In addition to seeking new' 

l''i)i<il fnvcsliiidtion RffxDls -1-' 

evidciuc and new w itncsscs, yon slionld lollow thron.^Ii to sec that 
all a\ailal)U' evidciK c has Ikcii snhjccted to proper examination. 
Also von should assist in the i^rciwration of the case for presenta- 
tion to the court and jury. In this re^^ard, it may become your duty 
to prepare exhibits lor the court or to coordinate the preparation 
ol this material. Von should rei)ort supplemental information and 
preparatory procedures to the jjroset utor on supplementary inves- 
tigation report forms. The following exhibits and reports may be 
necessary: (1) a scale drawing of the crime scene for the court- 
room. CI) photogiaphs, and (1^) reports of laboratory and other 
examinatioirs conducted subse(|uent to the prosecution report. 

Scale Drawing for the Courtroom 

As the investigator in a case, you should see that a scale draw- 
ing is prepared for use by the prosecution in the courtroom, and it 
must be exact in detail and measurement. If the services of a drafts- 
man or architect are available, he should be considered best quali- 
fied to prepare this drawing. When no one with special training is 
available, it inay be necessary for you to prepare the drawing. If 
this becomes your responsibility, you should be extremely careful 
in making measurements, checking and rechecking them. Measure- 
ments should be reduced to the selected scale and roughed in on 
a separate sheet before you prepare the final drawing. The final 
drawing should be made large so that the court and jury will have 
no dilhculty in seeing it. Make the drawing on white drawing 
paper. All lines and entries should be made in black India ink. 

If you are not a draftsman, a brief resume of your experience 
in this type of work should be included at any appropriate place 
on the drawing. You may have had a course in mechanical drawing 
or similar training, or you may have prepared these types of draw- 
ings for i^resentation on previous occasions. When the drawing is 
in proper proportion and measurements are according to scale, 
there is generally no objection to its acceptance. Its purpose is 
to demonstrate to the court and jury the appearance of the room, 
building, yard, or area where the crime was committed, and the 
objects within the area and their location. It will indicate the lo- 
cation of objects at the scene as found by you and others on arrival, 

220 Basic Police Reporl Writing 

and will serve to supplement photographs of the scene and the 
area. Remember, however, that the dra^ving can show only the 
crime scene and objects other than evidence that it contained at 
the time the rough sketch was made. Don't locate the evidence on 
the drawing. This must be done during the giving of testimony 
after the scale drawing has been accepted by the court. Each wit- 
ness \vho found evidence may be requested to mark its location on 
the drawing Avhile he is giving his testimony. 


Include, along ^vith your additional supplementary reports, 
fair-sized enlargements of all photographs taken at the crime scene. 
These should be marked by the person ^vho took them to show 
their sequence. Also include the photographer's resume of the 
pictures taken. If photographs are to be introduced as evidence, 
they will be established by the oral testimony of the person W'ho 
took them. 

Scientific Examinations Conducted 

You should include information in supplementary reports to 
indicate what has been done toward increasing the value of evi- 
dence. If any e\ idence has been taken to the laboratory for exami- 
nation subsequent to the submission of the prosecution report, 
you need to report the results. Indicate on the supplementary re- 
port the case, case number, charge, ^vho found the evidence, ^vho 
deli\ered it to the laboratory for examination, and Avhat exami- 
nations Avere requested. Attach a copy of the expert's report to 
your sujjplementary report. 

In most police cases where death results, or Avhere death occurs 
under unusual conditions even in the absence of evidence of vio- 
lence, the body is taken in charge by the coroner or medical ex- 
aminar. The normal procedure is to have a complete post-mortem 
examination (autopsy) conducted even though the cause of death 
may be cpiite evident. This is considered proper procedure and 
should include the examination of all of the organs and fluids of 
the body for possible signs of violence or the presence of poisons. 

In any case, ^vhere there is the slightest possible doubt as to 

r'inal hivcsliu^dtloii Rrjfoils 221 

the cause ol dcatli, you should \)v picscui (hniu^ tlic aut()j)sy. In 
sonic cases, the autopsy suiL!,eon uiay waiH to re\ iew the case with 
yon prior to eonclneting the examination. II you have a suspic ion 
as to the cause of death, you should tell the suroeon about it so 
special ai lent ion can be given to the suspected cause. 

it is i)()ssil)le h)i you to gather a great amount of valuable infor- 
mation and take some notes while the autopsy is in progress. The 
surgeon will often remark on his findings as he progresses. Most 
surgeons are not only interested in the })olic c j)roblem. but are also 
\ery cooperative. 

If you did not attend the autopsy, you should note this on your 
prtyseciition report. In any case, a copy of the surgeon's post-mor- 
tem examination re})ort should be requested for the prosecutcjr; 
and, if available, you should attach it to a supplementary report 
which you submit after your prosecution report has been received 
by the jjrosecutor. 

222 Basic Police Report Writing 


OFFENSE Burglary o'fli'E f-NO timeQc .;!._26^_1SS2_ 

=«-- w COMM I TTEO 

VICTIM .Henr3L_H._Rpe address 1224 -Jay: _Stt_ 

COMPLAINANT Same address Same 

CASE NO. J23457 

t-ween 9:30 P. I. and Us30 P.M. 

SUSPECT !lolm_(yiarle3_Dpe ADDRESS_l'^4_Maple Aye., Bl ankville, Calif. 

CRIMINAL RECORD OF SUSPECT Sae_cppy_gf_crimiiial_recgr^ Attached, 


John Doe entered the residence occupied by Henry Roe and family at 1234 
Jay St., City, between the hours of 9:30 P.M. and 11;30 P.M., on Wednesis./, 
October 26, 1959, vd.thout permission and with the intent to ccmmit theft 
(indicated by extensive search), by use of force applied to a bedroom window, 
and was apprehended by Officers Black and White as he left the premises. 

List Of Witnesses : 

1. Roe, Henry, occupant of 1234 Jay St., will testify as follows: 
"That at S:30 P.M. on Wed., October 26, 1959, he and Mrs. Roe left 
their residence; that at that time the residence was properly secured, 
door and windows lockedj and the bedroom window was not broken; that 
the drawers, closets and cabinets were in their nonnal orderly condi- 
tion; that when they returned shortly after 11:30 P.M. they found that 
tha bedroom window had been forced, and the house had been ransacked; 
that a screw driver found on the kitchen table, after the crime had 
been discovered, was not his property and was not on the table vrtian he 
left the house; that he observed the suspect, in custody of Officer Black, 
but did not recognize him as anyone he knew or had ever given permission 
to enter his dwelling." 

2. Officer White, Joseph, badge 317, precinct 7, will testify as follows: 
"That about 8:30 P.M. on Wed., Oct. 26, 1959, while on patrol on beat 16, 
he observed people leaving the residence at 1234 Jay St.; that about 11:30 
P.M., while again passing the residence, he observed the bedroom window 
open; that he approached the open window, and Officer Black covered the 
opposite side of the house; that shortly after airiving at the open window. 
Officer Black called him, and he proceeded around the house to Officer 
Black's position; that on arrival he noted that Officer Black had a man 

in custody; that the suspect was searched, secured, and left in custody 
of Officer Black; that White then entered and secured the interior of the 
residence; that no other person was found on the premises with them, and 
althou^ the house had been searched it appeared that nothing was missing; 
that a screw driver found on the kitchen table could not be identified by 


I'inal hwestigation Reports 22.-i 

Case No. 23457 ^^^e 2 

Kr. Roe, and that this was marked for identification and turned over to 
Sgt. Ralph Jones on his arrival; that White wrote the report." 

3. Officer Black, Ralph, badge 6i»3. precinct 7, wiU testify as follows: 
"That his testimony will be basically the sair.e as that given by Officer 
'rfhite, up to the time they approached the house after noticing the bedroom 
window; that he apprehended the suspect, John Doe, as he left the pranises 
by way of the back door; that he transported the prisoner to jail and 
booked him for investigation of burglary." 

4. Sergeant Jones, Roy, badge 27, Identification Officer, will testify 
as follows: "That latent prints found on the top surface of the dresser 
in the bedroom, near the point of entry, are the fingerprints of suspect 
John Doe; that the screw driver, turned over to him by Officer 'rfhite, has 
the same shape and size as the tool used to force the window in question 
and could be the tool used for this purpose; that criminal records indicate 
that the suspect was previously convicted of burglary in January, 1957, 
and served a term in State Prison as a result." Copy of criminal record 
of John Doe attached.) Of Sxhibits: 

Zxhibit A : Criminal record of John Doe (attached). 

Sxhibit 3 : Latent prints found on top surface of dresser in home of Heniy 
Roe, 1234 Jay St., City. Identified by Sgt. Roy Jones as prints of suspect, 
John Doe. Photographs of latent prints attached; original in custody of property 

Exhibit C : One 1/4" screw driver found on kitchen table of home of Henry 
Roe, 1234 Jay St., City. Evidence in custody of the property clerk. Can be 
identified by: 

a. Officer 'rfhite, Joseph as having been found by him on kitchen 
table at 1234 Jay St. Identification by "X" mark carved in wooden 
handle by Officer White. 

b. Sgt. Roy Jones, as the screw driver turned over to him by 
Officer White a«i the possible instrument used in gaining entry. 

Chapter XIX 


sons are arrested, adequate reporting procedures demand that re- 
ports shall be initiated which will provide institutional knowledge 
of the location and condition of all prisoners at any time, assure 
departmental care of prisoners, furnish adequate control of them 
while they are in custody, and provide for their release at the 
proper time by proper aiuhority. The reports necessary to the 
accomplishment of these purposes include: (1) an arrest sheet 
Avhich provides an arrest record, disposition sheet, commitment, 
and order for release; (2) alcoholic influence report; (3) hold for 
investigation report; (4) request to the court for change in the 
booking of prisoners; (5) request for internment; and (6) injured 
prisoner report. 


If you are the booking officer, you must record, in duplicate, 
information regarding the offender, charge, and the circum- 
stances of arrest before the prisoner is locked in jail or released on 
bail. This information, along with other useful data, must be re- 
corded on the "Arrest Record," Form 27. 

In preparing the "Arrest Record," note that the first required 
item is an arrest number. The number series for arrests starts on 
the first day of the year and runs consecutively and continuously to 
the end of the year, at which time a ne\v series starting with 
number one is inaugurated. Use a numbering machine to record 
arrest numbers; this eliminates most of the opportunity for error 
in number selection. 

Although the full name of the prisoner may be difficult to ob- 
tain, try to get it from his personal effects. Give the prisoner's com- 
plete address. State \\here he was arrested, the date and hour of 


Arrest liel)orts 




Arrest No 


Where arrested 

Platoon Beat 

Date Hour 

Age Sc^. Where born 

Color Citizen Non-Citiien 

Nativity of father Mother 

Married Single Sep. Div. Wid. 

Depents. Drinliing Drunk Narcts. 



Bail $ 

Arrcsled by Officer 
llow Arrested — 

Pick up 
Radio Call 

Common Sch. 


School Attending 



Time in City 



1. Date 

Case No. 

2. Date 

Case No. 

3. Date 

Case No. 

4. Date 

Case No. . 

Report No. 

Department Dispo.: Hold for D.D. 

Other Dispositions 

Finger Print No. Bur. Clearance by 

Hold for Comp. 

For Whom Arrested — 

Outside authorities only 
Outside tried here 

Outside for outside offense 

Charge — 
Original - Final 

Police Notice 
Result of Accd. 



Det. Rl'sd by 
Det. Rl'sd by 
Det. Rl'sd by 
Det. Rl'sd by 

Rel. when sober 

. Authority for Release by 



Form 27. Arrest Record (8"x5") (Front) 

How Released Ball Bond $ 
O R by authorlt> of 
To Appear 
Received by 

Entered Plea of Gulltj of 

Held to Answer 


Found Guilty of - - 

Length of Senteoce 
Other Disposition 


Del. to Co. Jail by 

ContiouBjices . 






and Ceru to Superior Court tor Sentence Date 
Charge Discharged 

Months TfTs. Fine - Probation 


Reason for 

Form 27. Arrest Record (Re\erse) 

226 Basic Police Report Writing 

arrest, name of the arresting officer, case number, ho^v arrested, for 
whom arrested, and the charge. Record the departmental disposi- 
tion as "hold for the detective division," "hold for a complaint," 
"release when sober," or other dispositions. 

Necessary sociological data ^vhich you must record include 
age; sex; place of birth; color; citizenship; nativity of father and 
mother; marital status; dependents; physical condition (drinking, 
drunk, or under the influence of narcotics) ; extent of education; 
school attending; Avhere employed; occupation; and time in the 
city, county, state, and nation. 

If the arrest was made 'on sight" by an officer in the field, send 
the complete record to the complaint clerk for the preparation of 
a case sheet. Then for^vard it to the records division where clerks 
will search the files in order to determine and insert the finger- 
print number, criminal record, any "wants" on the prisoner in 
other cases, and return it to the booking desk. 

Recjuire any commanding officer ^vho authorizes outright re- 
lease or release on bail to sign the report. If the prisoner is re- 
leased on bail, insert the amount of bail on the front of the report 
at the proper place and indicate on the back the name of the bond- 
ing company or the amount of cash bail. Get the officer \vho re- 
ceived cash bail to sign the report and record the date and hour 
that he received it. 

When the case must go to court for trial, forward the original 
of the arrest record to the proper court; this provides information 
necessary for the court clerk to prepare his docket. In any event, 
file the duplicate copy of the arrest record in the jail file \vhere it 
serves as a jail register. 

The reverse side of the arrest record is a disposition sheet. 
When the case is disposed of in court, the court clerk records all 
information necessary for tabulating dispositions in the police 
monthly statistical report. Space is provided for recording a plea 
of guilty, certification to court, date of trial, charge, reason for dis- 
charge, the offense of which tiie prisoner was found guilty, length 
of sentence, other dispositions, the judge and court in AvJiich the 
prisoner Avas tried, ^vho delivered the prisoner to jail after com- 
mitment, and continuances. Forward the arrest record, with com- 

A) rest Reports 227 

pleted disposition, to the records di\ ision Avlicre, after monthly ta- 
buhitions, it is filed with the ease. 

When the prisonet is released Ironi your custody, send the 
duplicate (jail file copy) to the records division where it will be 
filed according to the arrest ninnber in a pending file. After the 
disjjostion section has been completed, the record is filed in the 
arrest file. 


Since experience has proxed that possible defenses of drunk 
drivers are ninneroiis and drinik driving cases are difficidt to pro- 
secute, yon shc:)idd, as an arresting officer, utilize the "Alcoholic 
InHiience Report," Form 28, as a guide in the investigation when 
the arrestee is a drmik drixer. This report, formulated by the 
National Safety Coimcil's Committee on the Intoxicated Driver, 
offers excellent security against the usual defense attacks. If you 
keep an adequate supply of these report forms with you, your in- 
vestigation and most of the report can be completed in the field. 

Get a xvitness, conduct yom' investigation, and complete the re- 
port in accord xvith the steps as presented on the report form. Be- 
gin by designating the prisoner as either a driver, pedestrain, or 
passenger. Record the incident as either an accident, traffic viola- 
tion, or other situation. After recording the name, address, age, 
sex, race, approximate weight, and dri\er license nimiber of the 
prisoner, proceed to ask cpiestions and record answers on the form. 

In completing the "examination" section of the report, observe 
the subject carefully to determine alcoholic breath, color of face, 
condition of clothing, attitude, unusual actions, and the condition 
of his eyes. Draw^ circles around xvords on the form that describe 
observed conditions. Add other Avords of your own which seem to 
describe the arrestee's condition most adequately. 

Instructions are given on the back of the form for administer- 
ing a niuTiber of practical coordination tests. \V' ith the prisoner's 
consent, administer the tests. Follow the instructions and record 
the results of the tests in the "examination" section of the form. 

Present your own opinions as to xvhat led you to suspect the 
prisoner was inider the influence of alcohol, his imusual actions or 


Basic Police Report Writing 



D Driver 

D Accident 

D Pedestrian 

D Violation 

D Passenger 

D Other 


P.M. ..n.i llnii' of 

Accideot or Violstioa 


Case No 

Accident No.. 
Arrest N'n 

. What ? Quantities ? 

A.M. A.M. 
. P.M. Stopped P.M. Where ? 

Name Address 

Age Sex Race Approx. Weight Dr. Lie. No 

QUESTIONS: NOTE: Get witnesses to prove driving. 

Were you operating this motor vehicle ? Where were you going ? 

Whei^ did you start from? When did you leave? Time now? 

Have you been drinking?. 
Commenced .... 

Are you ill? Have you been to a doctor or dentist recently? If so, when? 

Who? (name of doctor or dentist) For what? 

Ai^ you taking medicine ? If so, what ? Last dose 

Do you ha\c diabetes? Are you taking insulin? Ha\'e >ou used a mouth wash recently? 

Are you hurt ? Did you get a bump on the head ? 

How much sleep did you have last night ? How much today ? 

Have you been drinking since the accident ? What ? Quantities ? 

EXAMINATION: — {Draw ciiclos around words describing observed conditions. Add other words of your own.) 



Odor of alcoholic liquor — 

Apparently none 


moderate s 



Apparently normal 





Orderly Mussed 






Polite Excited 
Cooperative Indifferent 







Profanity Hiccough 






.Apparently normal 





.Apparently normal 



Poor reaction to 



Sure Fair Swaying 


Sagging Knees 




Sure Fair Swaying 






Sure Fair Swaymg 






Right— Su 

e Umertain 

Left— Sure 









m cprrfU 1 Fair Slurred 
n SPEECH 1 ^,|^^;^^ ^, ^^,^^j^ 


Clearness and cc 

rrcctness of enunci 


What first led officer to suspect alcoholic influence? 

Unusual actions or statements 

Signs of illness or injury 


ABILITY TO DRIVE— Apparently fit 

Ability imp 

Examined by 


Witnesses to examination . 

Time Completed 


NOTE: L'SE OTHER SIDE [OR REM.^RKS. Wbea pbyticia 

for ciiemicjl lc»I, record 

Form 28. Alcoholic Influence Report Form (8i/2"xir') (Front). (Courtesy 
of National Safety Council, 425 North Michigan, Ave., Chicago, Illinois.) 

An est lie polls 



Namw of Officers or persons making the remarks 


Do not have suspect perform any lest action unless he is willint;. 
When tests are made, record results and check squares on other 
side. When tests arc not made, record conditions from general 
observations but do not check the squares. .X square is to be 
checked only if test is made. 

1. Pupils of eyes — flash a bright light in the eyes of the suspect and compare the reaction of his pupils with the reaction, 
obtained when a light is flashed in the eyes of another person. There should be the same reaction. 

2. Balance — Stand erect with heels together, eyes closed, and head back, to observe balance. 

3. Walking and turning — Walk a straight line, toe of one foot against the heel of the other, then turn and .walk back again. 
Watch closely for evidences of incooidination. especially when turning around. 

4. Finger-to-Nose Test — Stand erect, eyes closed, e.xtend arins horizontally to side, then, one arm at a time, touch the tip 
of nose with the tip of the index finger. 

5. Coin Test — Pick up coins from floor, ilf dcsiied have suspect place coins on table and arrange in order, with largest 
sized coins on right. Identify heads or tails. Observe ability.) 

6. Speech— Repeat the followin? test phrases; ELECTRICITY, METHOUIST EPISCOPAL. AROLNI) THE RUGGED 

7. Handwriting — Copy a sentence, or se\eral words (such as the test phrases in No. 6 above), or sign name, so that hand- 
writing can be compared. Space at top of this sheet may be used for this purpose. 



Exatnining physician, if any P.M. 

Name Addfvsi Time Examined 

Physician's Diagnosis 

Signature of Physician 


Sample Material Date and Taken in Sample Date and Percent 

No. Time Collected Presence of Sealed b\- Time Analyzed Alcohol 

Tests made by. 


Nolioool SoJalr CougciJ. 42S North Michigan Ava . Chicago II. III. 
Printed in U.S.A 

Stock No. 311.! 

Form 28. Alcoholic Iiinuciuc Report (Reverse) 

230 Basic Police Repent Writing 

statements, and signs of illness or injury. Circle the appropriate 
words relating to your conclusions as to the effects of alcohol on tlie 
prisoner as a driver and his ability to dri\e. Continue ^vith any 
additional remarks cjn the reverse side of the form. Sign the re- 
port and ask your Avitness to aflix his signature to it. 

When you reach lieadcjuarters, contact the complaint clerk, 
booking officer, or jailer, and request that he administer the coor- 
dination tests and complete the appropriate section of the second 
"Alcoholic Influence Report." When the two of you concur, you 
have established adecpiate reason to hold the prisoner on a drunk 
driving charge. 

With the priscjner's consent, it also is proper policy to have him 
examined by a physician and to take blood samples for the determi- 
nation of alcoholic content. When a physician has examined the 
prisoner and blood samples have been taken, ask the doctor and 
laljoratory technician to complete and sign the appropriate sec- 
tions on the reverse of the form. Case, accident, and arrest numbers 
will be recorded in the records division where the alcohol report 
is filed with the case. 


As an arresting officer you ^vill often find that immediate re- 
lease of a prisoner on bail or permitting him to commtuiicate with 
outside persons will interfere with continuous investigation which 
must be done by the detective division. In this kind of situation 
you should initiate a "Hold For Investigation Report," Form 29. 
This form, when properly executed, assures the department that 
the prisoner will be held by proper authority imder adequate re- 
strictions according to law and the rules and regulations of the 

Prepare the "Hold For Investigation Report" in duplicate 
when you think that the circinnstances justify holding the prisoner 
for the detective division with or \vithout communication. 

Give the full name of the prisoner, case ninnber, date and hour 
of arrest, arresting officers, the charoe, reason for holdino the 
prisoner, and instructions to the booking officer. Obtain the signa- 
ture, and note the date and hoin" of the signatine, of the command- 
ing officer who authorized you to hold the prisoner. 

Arrest Reports 231 

After the report has been si,t>nc(l by your (oiniiiancbn,^ ollucr, 
present it to tlie bookini; olhccr, who will note the restri( tions on 
the arrest record. Iile tlie (hii)h(ate in a "Hold For Investi.t^ation 
File," and h)r\var(l the ori<j,inal to thf dc-leeti\e division. 


Name — ^'-^^^ -^'" 

Dale of .\ . Hour of Arrest 

Arresting Ofiicers _ — 


Reason for Request 

Investigation Authorized by 

Date Hour 

Investigation Released Date Hour 

Form 29. Hold For In\estigation Report (8"x5") . 

By the time the detective division receives the original, a dupli- 
cate of your investigation report will have arrived, explaining in 
detail the reasons and extent of need for further investigation. 
When the detective division has completed the investigation, the 
detective who worked on the case will complete the line, investi- 
oation Released," and return it to the booking officer. The latter 
will cross out the "hold for investigation" note made on the arrest 
record, make changes in the charge as indicated by the detective, 
and record his initials, time, and date as indication that he has 
followed the prescribed procedure. 

If you later discover tiiat there is need for further restrictions 
on the prisoner, make a second set of "Hold For Investigation" 
forms indicating the necessary restrictions. 

The officer who has charge of tlie jail will make daily inspec- 
tions of the "Hold For Investigation File" in an effort to discover 
prisoners who are being held for in\'estigation longer than the 
law or departmental policy allows. \'iolations of these regulations 
are reported to the proper authority. 

232 Basic Police Report IVritiiig 


As the booking officer, you ^vill often need to provide Avritten 
notices to the court of booking changes which require alterations 
in the court docket ^vhen the court is some distance removed from 
your office. The prisoner may liave been released Avithout prosecu- 
tion, his availability delayed, or the charge changed. A "Request 
To Court," Form "M), is useful in forwarding this information. 


Defendant Arrest No. Case No. 

Docket No. Date of Arrest . 

Original Charge 

Request for Dismissal Clontinuance Change in Charge 

Charge Changed to 

Continue to 

\Vas Court Clerk Notified bv Phone? 

Unable to execute warrant on abo\e siiljject; please attach complaint anti return to 

Records Division for filing 

Date and Hour Booking Officer 

Form 30. Request To Court (8"x5") . 

When you need to pro\ide a ^vritten request for dismissal, 
continuance, or chanoe in the charoe, oet the name of the defen- 
dant, docket number, arrest niunber, case nmuber, and original 
charge from the arrest record and present this information on the 
"Request To Court." Mark the request as one for dismissal, con- 
tinuance, or change in charge. If the request is for a change in 
charge, record the new charge, (iive the suggested date for trial, if 
your recpiest is for a change in date. In any event, explain your 
reasons for the request. If the change of circumstances came about 
suddenly, you also ^vill want to indicate that the court clerk ^vas 
notified by phone. ^V^hen a dismissal request is due to the inability 
of your department to ser\e the warrant on the subject, request 

Arrest Reports 


that the (ouit attach i\\v c oiiipl.iiiit to yoin iccjucst and rclmii 
both to the records dixision lor hlinj;. Record the date and hour 
ot the rej)ort and si^n it. 

On receij)t ol the rec]uest, the court clerk makes the proper 
notation in his docket and staples the "Request To Court" to the 
arrest record and disj)<)sition sheet, and returns them to you. Later 
you will send them to the records di\ision lor fding. 


Either state law or the policy oF your department will require 
that prisoners sirspected of veneral disease shall be examined by 
health authorities and that those who are diseased shall be treated. 
II you are the arresting oflicer and you suspect or the prisoner 
states that he is infected, initiate a "Request for Internment," 
Form 'H. This form, prepared in duplicate, gives your reasons for 
requesting an examination, places responsibility for detention on 
the cominanding officer, infonns the booking oflicer of restrictions 
on the prisoner, and notifies health authorities that the person is 
being held for examination. 

Adequate space is provided for recording the date; case num- 
ber; name and address of the prisoner; the prisoner's age, sex. 


Name of Prisoner 

Sex Age 



Place of Arrest 


Case No. 


Circumstances of Arrest 



Di\ orced . 

lime of Arrest 

With W ho Arrested 

Prior Record 

Physician's Diagnosis 

Date of Iiiternment . 

Negative Results . 

Date 1 rcatment lerminaled 


Date Besfin Treatment 


Form 31. Rccjucst For Intcrnniciit (8"x5") 

234 Police Report \\')ltl)iij!^ 

color, occupation and marital status; time and place of arrest; with 
whom arrested; the charge; prior criminal record; and the circum- 
stances ol the arrest. The most significant j^art of the report is your 
reason for requesting the examination. 

Complete the form, affix your signattue, and forward the re- 
port to your commanding officer for his approval. 

The "Request For Internment," Form IM, is in essence an "in- 
ternment order." Space is provided for the physician's diagnosis, 
date of internment, negatixe resiUts, date of first treatment, the 
date treatment \vas terminated, and the signature of the physician. 

Send the approved report, both original and duplicate, to the 
booking officer. The latter will insert the words "Held for Intern- 
ment" in the space for "Charge" on the arrest record and place 
both copies in the front of the jail file. Either the booking officer or 
a clerk will send the original to the health department and the 
duplicate to the rocords division to be filed '^vith the case. 

At the health department the physician conducts the examina- 
tion and records his diagnosis. If he gets negative restdts, he notes 
this fact on the form and returns the signed report to the police 
department. If the prisoner is found contagiously infected, the 
physician records the date of internment and the date treatment 
began, and retains the form. At the conclusion of the treatment, 
he notes the date treatment \\'as terminated and returns the "Re- 
quest for Internment" to the booking desk, w^here it is retained 
initil a monthly report is prepared. 


Prisoners often are injined before or din-ing an arrest or suffer 
from some informity, prior injiny, or disease. Others may be in- 
jured in jail. If yoti have a prisoner in custody, as the arresting 
officer or jaider it is yotir responsibility to have him examined by a 
physician at a hospital or at tiie jail when he exhibits any evidence 
of serious injury or illness. Take every imconscious person to a 
hospital immediately. No prisoner shoidd be taken to a hospital 
for examination or treated at the jail unless you have initiated 
an "Injured Prison Report," Form 32. This report protects both 
the prisoner and your department by giving assinance that the 
former has been examined and treated. Reports 235 

II you are the officer who has liini in custody at the time of the 
examination, enter the ])risoner's name and the case number at 
tlic top ol the report. Answer tlic (juestion. "Has the prisoner an 
alcoholic l)reath?" Recjuest ot the jjhysician that he complete the 
remainder ot the report, which includes the nature and extent of 
injinies, treatment given, time entered hospital, date, time and 
date discharged, and the names of the muses in attendance. The 
most important (piestion to be answered by the physician is: 'In 
your opinion is the physical condition of this prisoner such that 
he may be held in custody in (name) Jail without endangering his 
life or health?" Sign the report and request that the doctor sign it, 
giving the name of the hospital Avhere the prisoner was examined 
and treated. Forward the report to the records division where 
it will be filed with the case. Make a supplementary investigation 
report if you are in possession of facts not heretofore reported. 


Name of Prisoner . Case No. 

Has the Prisoner an Alcoholic Breath? . Nature of Injuries 

Treatment gi\en 

In Nour opinion is the physical condition of this prisoner such that he mav be held in 

custody in the jail without endangerins; his life or health? 

Answer yes or no 

Time Entered Hospital Date Time Discharged Date 

Nurses in Attendance _____^ 

Ofhcer Signed M.D. or Interne 

Name of Hospital __^ . 

Form 32. Injured Prisoner Report (8"x5") . 

Chapter XX 


.s IN CASES OF ARRESTED PERSONS, your department is the cus- 
todian of recovered and foiuid property, evidence, and personal 
property which comes into its possession tlirough arrests, criminal 
investigations, and other ^vays. In the performance of this custo- 
dial function, the department must maintain a system of reporting 
^vhich will assure a chain of possession, identify property, provide 
for its protection and safekeeping, prevent unaiuhorized release or 
loss, and establish responsibility for release. 

The combined reports necessary to proper property control 
include 5"x8" property record, 5"x8" property envelopes, 5"x3" 
property index cards, 5"x8" general and prisoner property re- 
ceipts, 5"x3" aiUomobile receipts, and 8"xl0"' prisoner property 
envelopes. Property records, tags, envelopes, and index cards are 
prepared when the department receives any property of any kind 
except property that it owns or prisoner's property of a size that 
will fit into a prisoner's property en\elope. General and prisoner 
property receipts are initiated ^vhen property is received at de- 
partmental headquarters, and aiUomobile receipts are prepared 
when aiuomobiles are stored at police or public garages. 

If you are the officer who brought property in to police head- 
quarters, it is your responsibility to complete the property record, 
property tags or envelopes, and a property index card. 


As stated earlier, the "Property Record," Form 33, is a 5"x8" 
card designed as the fimdamental control record for all property 
received by the department other than its own property and pro- 
perty of a size that \vill fit into the prisoner's property envelope. 

Complete only one property record for all property on a case 
turned in at any one time, regardless of the niunber of pieces. 


Properly Cuntrol Re par Is 237 


Rctoul \u Hill No (->sc No. 

Physical Ev. ( ) Personal Prop. ( ) Found Pro. ( ) Rcc. C.oods ( ) 

Name of Owner -Vddrcss 

Description of Property ■ 

No. of Pieces ^ 

Ollicer -^ nate Hour 

Form 33. Troperty Record Card (8"x5") . 

On the report torm, record the tag niiniber and case number 
and identity the property as evidence, personal property, found 
property, or recoxered goods. Give the full name and address of 
the owner of the property. Describe the property (see Appendix C 
for information) , giving the number of pieces. Sign the property 
record and give the date and hour that you completed the report. 

If the property involves more than one piece or bundle, attach 
the property record to one of the pieces. You can tie the other 
pieces into the property record by the use of property tags. 


Property tags and prf)perty envelopes are used to identify each 
individual piece of property. Make use of the "Found Property" 
envelope. Form M, or the "Evidence" envelope. Form .^5, depend- 
ing upon the size of the article and the reason property is being 
held. Tse the 'Found Property" tag. Form .'.(). or the "Evidence" 


Basic Police Report Writing 



Fd. By - DATE 

Address - 

Where Found 

Arilcle - 

Officer No. 

Do+e Hour 

Additional data or remarks 


3!<-«»/ 2v4 7-5« 

Form M. Found Property Envelope (5"x8") 

I'ropoty i'.ontrol Rcfxiils 



Deft Case No. 

Name Dafe 

Offense Date 


Prop, of Def? Prop of Comp. 

Prisoner Arr. by 


Additional Remarks 

POLICE DEPT. Property Division 

3M-40I 2M 7-54 

I'OkNf ib. Kvidcncc Knvelope (j"x8") 


Basic Police Report Writing 

tag, Form 37, to identify articles too large to fit into a "Found 
Property" or "Evidence" envelope. Use a plain shipping tag or a 
plain manila envelope to identity property that is neither "found" 
or "evidence." Tags and envelopes are identical as to required 
data. The required information on both is self-explanatory. 


The property index card is a plain 5"x3" card. If you are the 
officer who brought the property in, copy all of the essential in- 
formation from the "Property Record" on this card (see Form 38) . 

Fd. by 




^^^ Where Found 









Form 36. Found Property Tag (3"x5") . 


Defr Report No.. 

Victim Date 

Offense Date in 


Prop, of Def? Prop, of Comp? 

Prisoner Arrested by 



Form 37. Evidence Tag (3"x5") 

P)(>l)(')l\ Control Reports 241 

Deliver the properly, alon;^ w iili the pri^perty record, property tags 
or envelopes, and property index card to tlie person in the property 
di\ ision who has been designated to receive it. Enter in a property 
ledger a hriel description ol the projxnty and the tag or envelope 
ninnber, and initial yoin- entry. 


II proj)ertv is being held lor the prisoner, the receiving officer 
\\'\\\ ciieck the property against the entries in the ledger and sign 
his name innnediately below the last entry as evidence that he has 
received the ]:)roperty. Each subsecjuent change in custody will be 
recorded in the same manner initil the property clerk takes charge 
of the property, and each change follows the same procedure. 

The property clerk stores the property after noting the bin 
number on all of the essential reports. He sends the Property Re- 
cord to the records division, where it is filed with the case. He then 
files the Property Index card in his own office according to the tag 
or envelope number, class, or description. This file serves as the 
property clerk's inventory of the property on hand. 

If property is to be held as evidence, follow^ a slightly different 
procedure. Make your entry in the property ledger and lea\e the 
evidence and reports in a locked cabinet for the laboratory tech- 
nician. The laboratory technician will handle the reports in the 
same manner as the property clerk handles other property reports. 


Record No. Bin No. Case No. 

Ph. Ev. Per. Prop. Found Pro. Rec. (ioods 

No. of Pieces 

Description of Property 

Name of Owner 

Date Claimed by Owner 
Date Sold at .Auction _ 

Officer . Date Hoin 

Form 38. Property Index Card (5"x3") . 

242 Basic Police Report Writing 


Since an automobile can't be delivered to headquarters like 
(jther property or evidence, you should take it directly to a police 
or public garage. At the garage complete a "Receipt For Automo- 
bile," Form 39. In completing the face of the form, record the case 
number; o^vner's full name (registered owner) ; the address where 
the car is stored; the date and hour of storage; your name; the 
make, type, model, motor niuuber, license number, and acces- 
sories on the aiuomobile; the name and address of the storage 
garage; name and address of the company that towed the automo- 
bile, and the signature of the person at the garage who received 
it. On the reverse side of the form state the condition of the auto- 
mobile at the time of storage and the circumstances which neces- 
sitated the storage. 

Deliver the "Receipt For Automobile" to the property clerk 
as though it were the vehicle itself. Complete the same records 
that you would complete if the car ^vere any other property. 

The property clerk dates and signs the receipt, completes the 
necessary index cards and files the receipt in his office. Once the 
automobile is to be released, the receipt is delivered to the owner, 
who presents it to the garage for release of the automobile to him. 
The garage has instructions not to release the car except upon pre- 
sentation of the receipt. 


Case No. 

Name of Owner 
Received at 

Date Hour Officer 

Make Type Model 

Motor No. License No. 


Stored at Garage 


Towed by 

Received bv 

Form 39. Receipt For Automobile (5"x3") (Front) 

Property Control Reports 2-lM 



Auto to l)c (lcli\ciccl to 

Date By 

Property Clerk 
Form 39. Receipt For Automobile (Reverse) . 

W'hen you find personal property in a stored automobile, re- 
move the property from the car and complete the same reports 
required for any other property or evidence. Make a notation on 
the "Receipt for Automobile" in order that the property clerk will 
release the other property when he releases the automobile. The 
property record cards for both the personal property and the auto 
are stapled together in the records division and filed with the case 


Don't release any property from the possession of the police 
department witliout obtaining a receipt. The "Receipt For Prop- 
erty," Form 40, is used for the release of all property other than 
automobiles and the personal property taken from the prisoner 
by the booking officer. This receipt assures the release of the right 
property to the right person by proper authority. It also contains 
an ackno^vledgment of the receipt of the property by the o\vner 
and the conditions under which it was released. 

If you are the officer who is ordering the release, identify the 
property on the form by listing the case, record, and bin numbers 
and a complete description. State the conditions of release, sign the 
receipt on the line "Approved by," and require the person to 

244 Basic Police Report Writing 

whom the property is being released to sign his name and give 
his address in order that the property clerk later may identify him 
by the signatme. 

The property clerk will indicate the name and address of the 
])erson to ^\•hom the property is released, sign his name on the line 
"Released by," and require the person who receives the property 
to sign for it. Later he will forward the receipt to the records divi- 
sion where it is filed with the case record. 


Case No Bin No Record No . Date Time 

Physical Evidence ( ) Personal Property ( ) Recovered Property ( ) 

Foimd Property ( ) 

Name Address 

Description of Property Released 

Circumstances of Release 

Released to . Address 

Released by Approved bv Rank 

Received from the Blankville Police Department, this date, the above described 


Form 40. Receipt For Property (8"x5") . 

I'lojjcyty Ctjulyol Reports 245 


If you are the booking officer, it is your responsibility to ini- 
tiate a "Prisoner's Property Recei|)t," Form 41, lor all small 
property and cash taken Irom the jjrisoner at the time ol hooking. 
This receipt, picparcd in (lipiicate, serves lour j)in poses: (1) it 
provides the prisoner a list ot the property taken from him, (2) it 
protects you agaiirst any claim that you took more property from 
the prisoner than was delivered on release, (.'V) it gives you any 
opportunity to ciu'( k property with nund)ers and inscriptions 
against the stolen property file, and (4) it may help in identilying 
evidenc e in the j:)resent or subsequent cases. 

At the time tiie jirisoner is searched, list the name and address 
ol the prisoner on the fiist line of the receipt. Follow the name and 
address with a complete list and description of all property found 
in his ]>ossession (see Appendix C for instriu tions on description 
of property) . Present the receipt to the prisoner for his signatme. 
If he is unable to sign, write "Unable to Sign" and initial the line 
designated for the prisoner's signature. Utilize the arresting officer 
as the searching ofiicer and ask him to sign the receipt witnessing 



Sidtion .19 

In compliance with Ihe provisions ol Section 1412 ol Ihe Penal Code, 1 have this day taken from 
the lollowing personal properly, to-wit: 

To be signed in presence ol searching ollicer. 

5«arctilng Oitlci 


Received the above described property this date 



^Qy^. This receipt is NOT transierable. Must be presented by Owner. 

under provisions of Ora. J973N5. property of ,. defend. m; cjrnot .'e Jelivereo lo inj person other than tne defenda 

Form 41. Prisoner's Property Receipt (8"x5") 

246 Basic Police Report Writing 

the fact that the listed and described property was taken from the 
prisoner. Sion the receipt yourself as the second witness. 

Deli\er the original to the prisoner, retain the dnplicate in 
a file at the booking desk. If the prisoner has property which is 
clearly identifiable by number or inscription, send the triplicate 
copy to the records division to be checked against the stolen pro- 
perty file. 

In the event that an identification is made in the records divi- 
sion, the clerk ^vho made the identification will prepare an investi- 
gation report in duplicate. The original of the investigation report 


Form 42. Prisoner's Property Envelope (8"xl0") 

Profwrty Conhol licpovls 


will be sent to his (oinniandino oflicer who will cause the property 
so identified to be held lor evidence and send the duplicate to be 
sent to the detective division. 

On release, recpiire the jirisoncr to produce his "Prisoner's 
Property Receipt." Sjxue is jjrovided on the lorm for hint to si^n 
his name as acknowledgment ot receipt ot the property. Record 
the date of release of the property, and sign the receipt yourself, 
giving your badge number and the address of the prisoner. 

Keep the jDrisoner's receijjt and for^vard it to the records divi- 
sion where it will be filed with the case record. In the event that 
the prisoner has lost or destroyed his original receipt, make a sup- 
plementary investigation report containing a list of the property 
obtained from the duplicate copy on file, and a note that the origi- 
nal receipt \vas lost or destroyed. 


After you initiate the prisoner's property receipt, place the 
prisoner's property (property taken from his person) in a "Pris- 
oner's Property Envelope," Form 42. Space is provided on the 
property envelope for the prisoner's name, the property receipt 
number, and the date. Spaces are provided over the entire face of 
the envelope for the insertion of this information in order that it 
may be used a ninnber of times. 

Chapter XXI 


HE COMPLETION OF IDENTIFICATION reports is often the last im- 
jjortaiit phase of operational reporting. These reports are the very 
lounclation of the identification phase of any criminal investiga- 
tion. Once they are incorporated into the records of a police 
agency, they become a veritable storehouse of information useful 
in the determination of the identity of dead persons and prisoners 
and in establisliing identity in relation to traces left at the scenes 
of crimes. 

In recent years tiie fingerprint report form has become the 
most significant of a number of reports in this category. However, 
this report is not always available to establish identity or the re-- 
lationship between the suspect and the crime scene. Description 
cards, photographs, and criminal history or "rap sheets" also serve 
their purpose in fulfilling the intention of identification reports. 
Some agencies also require the completion of single-fingerprint 
report forms in partictilar situations; and, in iniusual circum- 
stances, a photograph order may be necessary to cause photographs 
to be taken when otherwise departmental policy does not require a 

Regardless of the type of identification report, there is one 
item that is common to all of these reports— the identification num- 
ber. An identification number is assigned to each subject and is 
placed on each identification report in order that separate files 
may be maintained for identification purposes. This number, 
usually inserted in the upper right or left-hand corner of the re- 
port, is assigned to each criminal to identify all identification re- 
jKHts relating to him. He retains this number regardless of how 
many times lie may be arrested, fingerprinted, or photographed. 


The fingerjjrint report form or ftngerjjrint card, Form 4^^, is the 
most important of all identification records. It combines the quali- 


IndoilifK (ttion Re ports 


ties ot simplicity, speed, aaiiraty, and ohjcctiNity wliidi are so 
necessary to identification records. 

The standard fingerprint card, 8"x8" in size, is used in alnicjst 
all jurisdictions throughout the country. This card, made ot dur- 
able material, provides adequate space tor essential information 
and withstands natural wear and tear trom use in the police files. 

Although police agencies difter as to the required number of 
copies of this report, adequate fingerprint reporting demands 
tlnee: one for the local files, one for ttie state bureau tdes, and a 
final copy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional 


Form 43. Standard Fingerprint Card (8"x8") (Front) . Conrlcsv ol State 
Bureau ol Criminal Identification And Investigation Sacramento. Calilornia.) 


Basic Police Report Writing 





Nearest relative 

Crime and/or arrest report number 

Social Security number 

Drivers license number - 


1. TYPE OR PRINT all information. 

2. Note amputations in proper finger squares. 


4. Indicate any additional copies for other agencies 
in space belosi' — include their complete mailing 

Ithhold submission of fingerpri 
ng for development of photograph. 



Form 43. Standard Fingerprint Card (Reverse) . 

copies may be provided if the agency maintains an exchange of 
prints with other local, state, or federal agencies. 

Who Should Be Fingerprinted? 

Police agencies also di.sagree as to who should be fingerprinted, 
but proper reporting seems to dictate that all persons, with the ex- 
ception of traffic violators and those charged with the \iolation 
of city and county ordinances, should be subjected to the process. 
Any prisoner \vho is subject to fingerprinting on the basis of an 
offense for which he is arrested should be printed each time he is 
arrested in order that his criminal record may be kept current and 

I ikIi'iiIi linilioii l{rl)i))ls 251 

coiiipk'tc. A police a,i;fiuy lii;it docs not liaxc fslahlislicd iiilcs re- 
gardiiiL; iliis mattci would do well lo ado|jt those- indicated above 
since all other identification reports depend, to a great deoree, on 
settled j)oli( ies in relation to the finoerprint record. 

\Vho Should Be Responsible lor the Fingerprint Report? 

Many police agencies rcxjuire that the matter ot completing 
the fingerprint card shall be the responsibility of the identification 
bureau in the records division. Others place this responsibility on 
the ariestiiig officers. Either oi these jjolicies residts in the loss of 
time and energy, increases the possibilities of escape, and has other 
genera] inconveniences. A number of progressive agencies have 
discoxered that the jobs of fingerprinting and photographing pris- 
oners can be performed effectively by members of the jail force. 
Neither of the jol)s is difficidt and both can be performed by jailers 
with a great amoimt of efficiency after some training in these pro- 

Fingerprinting Procedure 

After tiie completion of the booking procedure and before 
processing for incarceration in jail or release on bail, you shoidd, 
if you are the jailer on duty, take the prisoner into ctistody for the 
pinpose of fingerprinting and photographing through facilities 
provided inside the jail. 

The matter of completing the fingerprint card is not a difficidt 
task, but the value of this report depends upon the legibility of 
the ridge detail of the prints that you take. Faidty or careless taking 
of the prints will render the report useless. 

The inked impressions of the fingers that you shoidd record on 
the standard fingerprint card fall into one of two categories— rolled 
or plain. The card provides for ten individual squares in txvo rows; 
place rolled impressions in these squares. Make these impressions 
by a rolling motion of each individually inked finger of the suspect, 
rotating the finger approximately 180 degrees. 

Generally, it is possible for fingerprint technicians to arrive at 
a proper classification of fingerprints from these rolled impressions; 
but, since this is not always possible, provision is made for includ- 

252 Basic Police Report Writitiiy 

ing plain impressions on the same card. Take plain impressions of 
all lour fingers ot a hand sinudtaneoiisly on the bottom of the 
fingerprint card. Make impressions of the left foin- fingers on the left 
side of the card and the right four on the right. Take thimib prints 
separately to the right and left of the midline of tlie card in a posi- 
tion on the card corresponding to their position on the hands. It 
is also good practice to take the plain impression at a slight angle 
to the verticle in order to luring the short little finger up into a 
position where it Avill shoAv on the fingerprint card. When you take 
plain impressions, you should be carefid not to superimpose the 
impressions over the area designated for the signature of the pris- 
oner on the card; the signature is often used for purposes of hand- 
\vriting comparisons. Finger impressions conflict with and detract 
from handwriting specimens. 

These plain impressions serve at least two usefid purposes in 
estal)lishing the fingerprint card as a valid identification record. 
The person who classifies the prints often uses them as a means of 
verification of the position and sequence of rolled impressions. If 
the ridge detail is not clear in the rolled impressions, the plain 
impressions afford another opportunity for finding clear ridge de- 
tail necessary to correct classification. 

Although you need not be an expert in fingerprinting, you 
shoidd have the kno^vledge of ^vhat constitutes a fingerprint pat- 
tern and what constitutes a single, legible, classifiable pattern. 
Knowledge of the points required for proper classification is also 
an aid in the taking of good impressions. Points ^vhich are often 
missed in rolled impressions, and Avhich are very essential to cor- 
rect classification, are the deltas. If, in taking the prints, you have 
Ijeen taught to look for the deltas in those which contain deltas 
and to make sure that they are clear in the rolled impressions, the 
{patterns shoidd ])e classifialjle. 

How To Take The Prints 

The following rules should proxe helpful in the taking of good 


1. Be sure tluit the inking plate, card holder, and roller are 
thoroughly clean. Denatured alcohol is a good cleaning fluid. 

Indcniiludlioii lifpovts 253 

TIk- film on tlu' \Aaw must l)i' Ircsli; good iiii|jrcs^ioiis c;iiiiiol be 
iiKidr witli ;i lilni ol ink ili;it is dry or hard. 

2. Daub a small amount ol piintcr's ink on the plate, roll the ink 
and cross-roll it in order to prevent excessive inking. 

3. Insert the lingerprint card secinely in the cardholder. 

4. Instruct the subject to relax and to allow you lo do the work. 

5. Have the person being printed stand immediately in iront ol 
the cardholder or between the inking i^laie and the cardholder 
in order that impressions will be straight on the card when rolled, 
(i. Roll each finger individually on the inked slab, making certain 
that it is inked over the main surface ol the finger tip and below 
the first joint. 

7. Roll each finger on the designated scpiare from "nail to nail" 
on the fingerprint card, beginning with the thumb of the right 

8. Roll all four fingers toward the little finger of tlie subject's hand. 

9. The thumbs may be rolled either way since there is no parti- 
cular strain on them when extended. 

10. The four fingers should remain together and extended for the 
taking of plain impressions. Re-ink the fingers before taking the 
plain impressions. Place the plain impressions in the appropriate 
places on the fingerprint card. Press tightly on the subject's hand 
with your free hand in order to cause the impressions to be clear. 

11. Be sure to sign the card and have the subject sign it at the ap- 
propriate places on the face of the card. 


Although the "Description Card." Form 44, at first glance, 
may seem ininecessary rejx)rting and a repetition ot information 
prov ided on the fingerprint card (reverse side) , yon shonld com- 

PHY.SIC.AL descriptk:)\ card 

Ident. No (I) Taken h\ Case No. 

Name (2) .Address _ 

Aliases Nickname _ 

Date .\rrested F. P. Class . 

Crime Sex (3) Color (4) 

Height _(3)_ ^^•eight _ (6) _ Build _ (7) _ -Age (8) Hair (9) 

Eyes (10) Complexion (11) Teeth (12). 

Marks (13) Scars (14) 

.Amputations (15) • 

Dress (16) Habits (17) 

Form 44. Physical Description Card (8"x5") (Front) . 

254 Basic I'oUce Report Writing 

j)lc'te this loriii in ink Avhen you do the finoerprinting and photo- 
;4raphin<>. 1 he description card, if properly constructed and main- 
tained, may be used as a guide in completing the descriptive in- 
formation on the fingerprint card once it reaches the records divi- 
sion. The original copy shoidd later find its Avay to the case file to 
be used by officers in the overall investigation of the case; and, if 
separate j^ersonal description files are maintained, it can be usefid 
in establishing identification in suf:)seciuent investigations. 

Identification Number (1) 

The identification nund)er is the same as that which appears 
on the fingerprint card. This number is inserted by the finger- 
print clerk in the records division. 

Name, Address. Aliases, Nicknames, Date Arrested, Charge, and 
Case Number (2) 

Obtain the name of the prisoner, his address, aliases, nick- 
names, date arrested, charges, and case number from the arrest 
sheet. In addition, you shotdd question the prisoner regarcfing 
most of these matters in order to detect any discrepancies recorded 
at the time of booking. In case the prisoner is a woman, exercise 
care to record her given name, maiden name, and married name. 
Capitalize the fiUl name of the prisoner. 

Sex (3) 

Indicate whether male or female. 

Peculiarities (18). 

Mannerisms ( 1 9) . . 

Occupation (20) 

Birthplace (21) Date of Birth 

Home Town (22) Prior Addresses (2.'5) 

Names and addresses of relatives (24) . 

Names and addresses of associates (24) . 

Form 44. Physical Description Card (Reverse) . 

Indenlification Reports 255 

Color (4) 

Color indicates race and may be presented at white (W) , 
Negro (N). Oriental (O) . or Indian (I) . Note that abbreviations 
are jjerniitted. 

Height (5) 

Do not guess at height. Facilities tor nieasnrement of exact 
height shonld be available in the jail. 

Weight ((>) 

Determine the exact weight ot the prisoner. Scales should also 
be a\ailable in the jail. 

Build (7) 

The prisoner may be described as large, medium, slim, or 
stocky. A large person may be described further as stout or very 
stout. Any person may be described as stooped or square-shoul- 
dered if either of these characteristics exist. 

Age (8) 

Take the prisoner's word for his age; for example, record the 
age as '25 years, claimed." 

Hair (9) 

This descriptive item calls for color and condition of the hair. 
Hair may be described as light blond, blond, dark blond, brown, 
black, red, white, mixed grey, or grey. Baldness and degree of 
baldness should be specified as frontal, occipital, top of head, or 
total. If the prisoner is a woman, you may need to note artificial 
coloring of the hair. 

Eyes (10) 

Indicate the color of the iris of the eye as blue, grey, maroon, 
yellow, light brown, brown, or dark bro^v'n. 

Complexion (11) 

Complexion may be described generally as dark, fair, or ruddy. 
Peculiarities such as freckles, pockmarks, or pustulous skin shoidd 
be noted. 

250 Basic Police Report ]Vyiti)ig 

Teeth (12) 

Don't i^ixe a clesc ription ot tectli unless you observe a ])eculia- 
1 iiy or pe( uliarities sutii as missing, false, or gold teeth. 

Marks (13) 

Notations of marks should include distincti\'e marks such as 
large moles, tattoo marks, and birthmarks. Be careful to note the 
exact location of these marks. 

Scars (14) 

Indicate the type of scar, length, and the exact location. 

Amputations (15) 

State the exact member of the body that is missing and whether 
the loss was accidental of by surgery. Note missing fingers, toes, 
arms, or legs. 

Dress (16) 

The manner of dress may be described in general as neat or 
careless. Specific information may include "^vears hat. casual or 
sport clothes, often dresses formally," etc. 

Habits (17) 

Personal habits of the prisoner may include drug addiction;' 
heavy drinker or smoker; gambler; freqtienter of race tracks, pool 
halls, dance halls, baseball parks, resorts, etc. 

Peculiarities (18) 

The prisoner's peculiarities may include lameness, bowlegs, 
pigeon toes, knock-knees, caidiflo^ver ears, t^vitched featines, rapid 
or slow gate, wearing of glasses, carrying a cane, and stuttering or 
other speech defects. 

Mannerisms (19) 

Classify as mannerisms any iniusual gestures such as continti- 
otis pulling of the ears, picking or scratching the nose, or scratch- 
ing the body. Unusual signs or gestures \vith the iiands and arms 
may also be listed in this category. 

I udoiiijtt (tlioii J{(l)(j)ls 257 

Occupation (20) 

List the |)ii,s()iu'i's occupation as laniicr, rancher, carpenter, 
jeweler, etc. Take his ^vorcl as to liis occupation. 11 the prisoner 
states that he has no occupation, list the oc( upation \vhi( h he states 
that lie has lollowed in the })ast. In the e\eiU that the prisoner 
gives no inlorniation as to his occu|)ati()n, list it as 'unknown." 

Birthplace and Date of Birth (21) 

As in the case of the occupation, take the prisoner's word for 
this inlorniation. Indicate the city, state, or nation and the date 
and year of birth. For example: "Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
(claimed), August 24, 1914 (claimed)." 

Home Town (22) 

Gi\e the location of the city or conuuunity in \vhi( h the pris- 
oner states that he lived during his youth or the place that he 
names as his home town: for example, "Kansas City, Kansas 
(claimed) ." 

Prior Addresses (23) 

List the prisoner's complete addresses for the past five years. If 
enough space is not provided on the face of the form, make a nota- 
tion and give the added information on the reverse side of the 

Names and Addresses of Relatives and Associates (24) 

Like much of the other identifying data, you must get this in- 
formation from the prisoner. In listing relatives give complete in- 
formation, including full name, relationship, street, house iiuin- 
ber, and city. Give like information for associates. Personal asso- 
ciates include those with whom the prisoner was arrested or those 
he gives as his personal friends. 


The j)hot()graj)hic report necessary to ideniilication records in- 
cludes both a front and profile "mug shot" of the prisoner and the 
"Mug Form" which is stamped on the reverse side of the "mug 
shot." (See Form 45 and Form 46.) 


Basic Police Re port Writing 

Who Should Be Photographed? 

Police agencies differ as to their policies on photographing 
prisoners. However, one thing is certain: a department shoidd 
establish a specific policy regarding this matter and include defi- 
nite rules in its manual of procedure. It is the opinion of most 
authorities that it is sound policy to photograph all persons 
charsed with felonies; misdemeanants who are charged with lar- 
ceny, confidence games, and prostitution; and all persons upon 
whom photographic orders have been issued. 

A photograph order such as the one which appears below. 
Form 47, should be completed by the investigating officer in situa- 
tions where photographs are needed and departmental policy does 
not other\vise provide for the taking. The order includes the date, 
case number, the capitalized name of the person to be photo- 
graphed, and the charge. The commanding officer must affix his 
signature before the order is valid. You, as the photographer, 
should complete the form, after taking the photograph, by sign- 
ing your name on the line, "Taken by," and inserting the date, 
mug number, and comments in the appropriate places. 

Form 45. Mug Shot (5"x3") 

In(iciitili((iti(jn lirjj<j)t.s 259 

NFl (; !()RM 

i.usc No. 

Name Ideiit No. 

Sex Color . .Age Ht. 

\Vt Build Hair 

E\cs Conip. Occup. 

Marks, .scars 

Date Arrested Charge 

Criminal Specialty F. P. Class 

Form 46. Mug Form (Reverse of Mug Shot) 


Case No. 
Please take a photograph of 

Held on charges of 

Commanding Officer 


Taken by 


Mug Number 

Form 47. Photograph Order (8"x5") . 

The Procedure 

Your first step in the ])h{)tographing of the prisoner is to clieck 
with the records division to determine \vhether the prisoner has 
been previously pliotographed by the department. If previous 
photographs were taken over three years ago, or the existing "mug 
shots" are a poor likeness of the prisoner as of tlie present time, 
departmental policy siioiild allow you to take new photogTaphs 
withoiu a j)hotograph order. 

Photograph the prisoner in a frontal view and in profile on the 
same film. The front view permits ready recognition of the indivi- 

260 lid.sic Poller Report W riling 

dual by ^vitnesses, but the profile is necessary to certain other iden- 

One ol the secrets of good "nuig shots" is the proj)er position 
of the head of the subject. In order to obtain this position, draw 
two lines crossing each other at an angle of 75 degrees on the 
ground glass with a pencil. The head of the subject in the profile 
photograph should occupy such a position that the intersection of 
the lines is at the outer corner of the eye and the horizontal line 
passes through the center of the ear. In the frontal view the lines 
should intersect at the point where the nose meets the forehead. 

A black background will prove most satisfactory for photo- 
graphing \vhite persons. Use a grey background for photograj^hing 
colored people. If possible, the light should be uniform for all 
photographs. You can accomplish this by using artificial light, 
which should come chiefly from above with some from the front 
and sides. 

Place a 4" by 5" studio camera ecjuipped with a portrait lens 
on a studio camera-stand. Seat the sidjject in a straight-backed 
chair looking immediately for^vard. The camera lens shoidd be 
approximately on a level with the eyes of the subject. It is very 
important that you adjust speed and lens openings and that the 
camera is properly focused, but these adjustments must be made 
in accord with the conditions under which the photographs are 


Appendix A 


oRDs ARK 11 IF, Mosi iMFORTAN T tools of report Writing. They 
are \ isiblc e\ idence ol tliouohts, and the means whereby thoughts 
are conveyed to others. Your success in writing depends upon the 
confidence with \\iu(h you approach llic writing oi a report as 
well as the clarity with which you express your ideas. Since success 
is yoiu goal, you must be effective in your choice of words, con- 
struct your sentences properly, and punctuate to the advantage 
ot the reader. The very toundation of such accomplishments is 
the knowledge which you possess of the parts of speech. 


A }iou)i is a name word; it names a person, place, thing or 

The suspect gave us a sUilonenl. 

A proljcr noun is the particular name of a person or thing. 
Raymond Holt ga\c us n statement. 

A coitnnou }iuuu is the name of a class of persons or things. 
S..'veral trees were srr(nvin,<> along the roadside. 


A j))0)i()ini is a word used in place of a noun. 

He came to the door of the caliin and shouted at the group. 

A personal pronoun indicates the person speaking, the person 
spoken to, or the person or thing spoken of. 
/ am asking yon to drop //. 

The rcldlivc projtoun refers to a noun or jjronoiui used pre- 
\ ioiisly in the sentence. 

All articles which were on the talile were checked for fingerprints. 
He who was injured was transported to the hospital. 


264 Basic Police Report IV ri ting 

The interrogative pronoun is used to ask a question. 
The suspect shouted, "Who are you?" 

The demonstrative pronoun points out directly a person, place, 
or thing. 

T/iis is the best report that I have written. 

The indefinite pronoiDi points out a person or thing less ex- 
actly than a demonstrative pronoun does. 
Everybody left the scene at two o'clock. 

Compound personal or reflexive pronouns are used to empha- 
size or to indicate reflex action. They are always used ^vith nouns 
or othei pronouns. 

The suspect liiniself admitted responsibility for the accident. 

The gun itself was in full view. 


An adjective is a ^vord which describes or limits the meaning 
of a noun or pronoun. 

The victim described the suspect as a tall^ lieavy man dressed in 
dirty, nnketnpl clothing. 

The boy was large for his age. [His is a possessive adjective) . 


An adverb is a word "which describes or limits a verb, adjective, 
or another adverb. 

The ^ictim stated that a rather tall boy ran very quicklx down the 


A iferh is a word \\luch expresses action, being, or state of be- 

Hendrix called the police station. (Action) 

These -were his last words. (Being or state of being) 

A verbal (participle, infinitive, or gerund) is a word formed 
from a verb, but used as another part of speech. A participle is 
a verbal adjecti\e; an infinitive is a verbal used as a noun, adjec- 
tive or adverb; a gerund is a verbal noun. 

Longing (participle) for liis freedom, he tried to improi^e (infini- 
tive) his lying (gerund) . 

Af)l)i'ii(li.\ .1 



A ((>)ijun(li())i is a word wiiidi connects words. ])hrases, or 

CooxUiKilini!, (otijinu lions connect \\-()rds, phrases, or clauses 

ol e(|iial value. 

Roberts and Rhclin arrived at the stene. but they did not investi- 
i^ate the storeroom. 

Suhordinalino^ (onjiinctioths connect clauses ol miecjual value. 

The detectives were late because they chec ked the suspect's criminal 
record Ijefore their departure. 


A preposition is a word used to show the relationship between 
a noun or pronoun (the object of the preposition) and some other 
word in the sentence. 

The prowler hid under the house. 
Considerable evidence was discovered in the automobile. 


An interjection is a word Avhich expresses strong or sudden feel- 
ing and has no graiumatic al connection with the rest of the 


The witness exclaimed, •Oh, what a terrible accident!" 


Case is the form or use of a noun or pronotui that shows its 
relation to other words in the .sentence. There are three cases: 
nominative, possessive, and objective. 

Nominative Case 

The subject of a verb is in the nominative case. 
The victim was a juvenile. 
He was a ju\enile. 

Caiuion: Do not be confused by intervening parenthetical 


Wrong: Whom did you say investigated the case? 
Riglil: Will) did you say investigated the case? 

The predicate nominative or sul>ject comjAement is also in 

266 Basic Police Report Writiiig 

the nominative case. This is a word that completes the verb and 
refers back to the subject. 

It is /. 

The culprit inij^ht ha\f been he. 

Objective Case 

The direct object of a verb or verbal (a word that receives the 
action of the verb or verbal) is in the objective case. 
The witness told the officers her story. 
To give the public good service was the officer's only desire. 

The object of a preposition is in the objective case. 
A group ol ;/.s officers went to the game. 

The subject and the object of an infinitive is in the objective 

We want lilin to be an officer's friend (subject) . 

The witness believes the suspect to be him (object) . (In this sen- 
tence him is in the objective case to agree with suspect, which is the 
subject of the infinitive.) 

Possessive Case 

A noini or pronoini expressing ownership is in the possessive 

The suspect's fingerprints were taken. 
The gun was his. 

Catition: Ordinarily, do not use the possessive \vith intangible 


Wrong: The suspect's appearance was deceiving. 
Right: The appearance of the suspect was deceiving. 

A noini or pronoim which modifies a gerimd (verbal noini) is 
in the possessive case. 

The authorities were surprised about the prisoner's leaving. 

Certain expressions, such as those of time and measine, recjuire 
the possessi\'e form. 

After two days' work we located the witness. 

The suspect bought the child a dollar's worth of candy. 

Appendix A 267 


Agreement is tlie graniniatical relationship of words in respect 
to their person, number, oender, or case. The person of a pro- 
noun indicates whether one is speaking (I) , is spoken to (you) , or 
is spoken of (he, she, it) . Xiunhcr is the form of a noun or pro- 
noim \vhich indicates wliether one or more persons or things are 
named. (Tlie singular indicates one; the plural, more than one.) 
Gender indicates the sex or sexlessness of a person or thing named 
hy a nt)iui or pronoun. 

A suljject and its \erb must agree in ninnber and person, re- 
gardless of intervening modifiers (adjectives, ad\erl)s, etc.) . 
A large group of cars was parked outside the hideout. 
This offieer. as well as his associates, /.v interested in the public. 

Singular subjects joined by and take a plural verb: however, 
if the singular subjects represent a collective idea, a singular verb 
should be used. The singular verb is also used if a compound sub- 
ject is modified by each or every. 

The gun and cartridge ivere on the floor. 

Your friend and protector is here to serve you. 

Each boy and girl in the class loas questioned. 

Every man and woman at the scene leas cjuestioned. 

Singular subjects joined by either . . . or, neither . . . nor take 
a singular verb; however, if the subject is made up of a singular 
and a plural noun or pronoun, the verb agrees with the nearest 


Neiltier the witness nor his employee is sure of the facts. 
Either he or his associates are responsible. 

A collective noun takes a singular verb when the gTOiip is re- 
garded as a unit, but phnal verb when it indicates individuals 
within the group. 

The crowd fias dispersed. 

The crowd were on their respective ways to their homes. 

In a sentence containing there is or there are, the verb should 
agree with the subject which follows: 

There are a loop, whorl, and an ardi in the fingerprint patterns. 
There is a number of witnesses available. 

268 Basic Police Report Writing 

A jjronoun must agree w'nh its antecedent in number, gender, 
and person. 

Every boy in the ncighhorhood voluiitccred liis assistance. 

Demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those) must agree 
in numl)er with tlie nomis they modify. 

The ]K)li(e department wants this kind of pictures. 
The ^Joliee department wants tliesc kinds of pictures. 


The various forms of the verlj indicate time. 

Principal Parts 

The princijxil parts of a verb are the present tense, the past 
tense, and the past pa) ficiple. From these all other forms are de- 

A regidar verb forms its third person singidar by adding s or es; 
it forms its past tense and past participle by adding d or ed. 
desire .... desires desired .... desired 

drown .... drowns drowned .... drowned 

flow .... flows flowed .... flowed 

reach . . reaches reached .... reached 

An irregular verb fcnms the past tense and the past participle 
by changing its vo^vel or by changing its form completely, 
am, is was, been 

come, comes came, come 

drink, drinks drank, drunk 

hide, hides hid, hidden 

Caution: Do not confuse the past tense and the past participle 
of irregular verbs. The past tense is used alone; the past participle 
is used ^vith some form of the auxiliary verb he to form the passive 
voice and the auxiliary verb have to form the perfect tenses. 

Principal Parts of Commonly Used Verbs 

Past .Participle 


















Appendix A 










































hang (to execute) 


hang (to suspend) 














































Pdst I'nYticifyle 












































270 Basic Police Report Writing 

Present Past Past Participle 

teach taught taught 

tear tore torn 

throw threw thrown 

wear wore worn 

weave \vo\e woven 

wring wrung wrung 

write wrote written 

Tense of the Verb 

The tense of a verb means its time. The present, past, and 
future tenses (the simple tenses) indicate action, being, or state 
of being that is or was or luill be. 

He practices with his revolver each chiy. (present tense) 

He practiced every ciay. (past tense) 

He icill practice every day. (future tense) 

The perfect tenses (the (present perfect, past perfect, and future 
perfect) are used to express action which is completed in the pre- 
sent, was completed in the past, or will be completed in the futtire. 
These tenses are formed with the corresponding form of the atixi- 
liary verb have plus the past participle. 

He has practiced an hour, (present perfect) 
He had practiced an hour, (past prefect) 

He iL'ill have practiced an hour at this time tomorrow, (future 

The future tenses make the following distinctions between 
shall and will: 

To express a simple future tense, shall is used in the first per- 
son and will in the second and third. 

I shall investigate the case tomorrow. 

W'e shall investigate the case tomorrow. 

You will investigate the case tomorrow. 

He (or they) will investigate the case tomorrow. 

To express determination, threat , or promise on the part of the 
speaker, ivill is used in the first person and shall in the second and 

I promise that I wilt write the report t(jmorrow. 

We are determined that he shall write his report within three days. 

Appoidix A 271 

Xotc: The same rules a|)|)ly to .should and -would, ex(ej)t when 
should implies an obligation or \vhen xi'ojild implies habitual ac- 
tion or a wish. 

\()u should write your report. 
l-.\crv i'\enint> we xi'ould write our reports. 
Would tliat I IkkI (oinpleted my shift.. . 

A progressive verb phrase indicates action (ontimiing at the 
time referred to. 

He is 7(ir;7;«^ his report, (present progressive) 

He -aui.s uniting his report, (past progressive) 

He u'ill be writing his report, (future progressive) 

He has been luriting his report, (present perfect progressive) 

He had been luriting his report, (past perfect progressive) 

He xt'ill have been uniting his report, (future prefect progressive) 

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs 

Verbs may be classified as transitive and intransitive. 
A verb is transitive if it has an object (active voice) or if the 
subject is acted upon (passive voice) . All other verbs are intran- 

He l(n(l liis gim on tire table, (transitive verb, active voice) 
The gun loas laid on the table, (transitive verb, passive voice) 
The gims icere lying on the table, (intransitive) 

Lie^ sit, and rise are intransitive verbs; lay, set, and rise are 
transitive verl^s. 

Mood of Verbs 

Mood, or mode, indicates the manner in Avhich a verb states 
its action. \^erbs are classified also according to mood as indicative, 
imperative, and subj}uictive. 

The indicative mood states a fact or asks a question. 
The officer wrote his report. 
Has the gun been fired? 

The imperative mood expresses a command or a recjuest. 
Cease fire. 
Please be cpiiet. 

The subjunctive mood expresses a \visli, a condition contrary 
to fact, a demand, or a state of necessity. 

272 Basic Police Re port Writing 

I loish I were a sergeant. 

If he luere my partner, I would disown him. 

It is necessary that a report be made. 

I demand that the subject have another chance. 

Caution: Do not use the subjinictive after if when the idea is 
not definitely contrary to fact. 

The witness stated, "It he ivas there, I did not see him." 

Appendix B 


1. Criminal Homicide 

a. .\funler and XonnegligL-nl Mansiaughler 
I). Manslaugluci bv negligence 

2. Rape 

a. Forcible 

b. Statutory 

3. Robbery 

a. Highway 

b. Commercial house 

c. Oil station 

d. Chain store 

e. Residence 

f. Bank 

g. Miscellaneous 

4. Aggravated Assault 

a. Assault with intent to kill or murder 

b. Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon 

c. Maiming, mayhem, and assaidt with intent to main or commit 

d. Assault with explosives 

e. W'illlul obstruction ot railroad 

1. All attempts to commit any of the above 

5. Burglary— Breaking or Entering 

a. Residence 

1. Night time burglary 

2. Day time burglary 

b. Nonresidence 

1. Night time burglary 

2. Day time burglary 

^Federal Bureau of Investigaliou: I'uifonn Crime Reporting Handbook. Washiiigioi 
D. C, Federal Bureau of Investigatiou, 1955, pp. 11-45. 


274 Baste Police Report IVrititig 

6. Larceny— Theft 

a. $50 and over 

b. Under $50 

7. Auto Theft 

a. Joy riding 

b. All other 


8. Other Assaults 

a. Simple Assault 

b. Assault and battery 

c. Pointing a gun in jest 

d. Injury caused by culpable negligence 

e. Intimidation 
£. Coercion 

g. Resisting or obstruction of an officer 

h. Hazing 

i. VV^ife beating 

j. Drawing a dangerous weapon 

k. All attempts to commit the above 

9. Forgery and Counterfeiting 

a. Forgery (except checks) 

1. Forging wills, deeds, notes, bonds, seals, trademarks, etc. 

2. Possessing or uttering forged instruments 

3. Using forged labels 

4. All attempts to commit the above 

b. Counterfeiting 

1. Counterfeiting coins, plates, bank notes, checks 

2. Coimterfeiting instruments 

3. Possession, manufacture, etc., of counterfeiting apparatus 

4. Selling goods with counterfeited trade-marks 

5. All attempts to commit the above 

c. Checks (forged and fictitious) 
10. Embezzlement and Fraud 

a. Embezzlement-conversion 

b. Confidence games 

c. Frautl 

1. Fraudulent conversion, appropriation, conveyance, entries 
accounts, registration, use of trade-marks, emblems, mis- 
branding, etc. 

-Ibid., pp. 44-47. 

Appendix li 275 

2. False personation, pretense, slatenieni, dociniient, repre- 
sentation, claims, evidence, etc. 

3. Gross fraiul, cheat, or swindle 

4. Checks (insufficient linuls or no account) 

5. Fraudulent use ol telephone, telegraph messages 

6. Insurance frauds 

7. Use ot false weights and measures 

8. False advertising 

d. All attempts to conunit the above 

1 1 . Stolen Pro[)erly 

a. Buying 

b. Receiving 

c. Possessing 

d. All attemj)ts to commit any ol the above 

12. Weapons 

a. Carrying 

b. Possessing 

c. Manufacture or sale 

d. Using, manufacturing, etc. silencers 

e. Furnishing deadly weapons to minors 

f. All attempts to commit any of the above 
l.S. Prostitution And Commercialized Vice 

a. Prostitution 

b. Keeping bawdy house, disorderly house, or house of ill fame 

c. Pandering, procuring, transporting or detaining women for 
immoral purposes 

14. Sex Offenses (except rape and prostitution) 

a. Adultery and fornication 

b. .Abnormal sex relations 

c. Intercourse with insane, epileptic, or venerally diseased person 

d. Indecent liberties 

e. Miscellaneous 

f. All attempts to commit any of the above 

15. Offenses Against the Family and Children 

a. Desertion, abandonment, or nonsupport of wdfe and children 

b. Neglect or abuse of child 

c. Nonpayment of alimony 

d. All attempts to commit the above 
If). Narcotic Drug Laws 

a. Unlawful possession, sale, etc. of narcotic drugs 

b. Keeping or frequenting an opiimi den 

270 Basic Police Report Writing 

c. Habitual users 

d. All attempts to commit any ot the above 

17. Liquor Laws 

a. Manufacture, sale, transporting, furnishing, possessing, etc, 
intoxicating liquor 

b. Maintaining unlawful drinking place 

c. Advertising and soliciting orders for intoxicating liquor 

d. Bootlegging 

e. Operating still 

f. F"urnishing liquor to a minor or intemperate person 

g. Using a vehicle for illegal transportation of liquor 
li. Drinking on train or public conveyance 

i. All attempts to commit any of the above 

18. Drunkenness 

a. Drunkenness 

b. Drunk and disorderly 

d. Omimon or habitual drunkartl 

d. Intoxication 

19. Disorderly (Conduct 

a. Affray 

b. Unlawful assembly 

c. Disturbing the peace 
(1. Disorderly conduct 

e. Disguised and masked persons 

f. Prize fights 

g. Blasphemy, profanity, and obscene Language 
h. Desecrating flag 

i. Refusing to assist an officer 

20. Vagrancy 

a. Begging 

b. Loitering 

c. Vagrancy 

d. Vagabondage 

21. Gambling 

a. Keeping gambling place 

b. Common gambling 

c. Owning gambling resort 

d. frequenting gambling resort 

e. Lotteries 

f. All attempts to commit any of the above 

22. Driving While Intoxicated 

a. Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated 

ylj>l>rn(lix n '111 

\). C)|Ki;iliiig ;m ciij^iiif, Uaiii, strccl car, slcamboat, etc., while 
T'). V'iolatioii ol Roiid ;in(l l)ii\inj; Laws 

a. Speeding 

b. Reckless dii\iiig 

c. Right oI way 

d. \/iolation of signs and signals 

e. Other violations 
21. Parking Violations 

a. Overtime 

b. Other illegal parking 

25. Other Violations ol Traffic and Motor Vehicle Laws 

a. Hit and run— personal injury 

b. Hit and run— property damage 

c. Leaving scene of accident 

d. All others 

20. All Other Offenses (not classilied aliove) 

a. Abduction and compelling to marry 

b. Afjortion 

c. Admitting minors to improper places 

d. Arson 

e. Bigamy and polygamy 

f. Blackmail and extortion 

g. Bribery 

h. Burglary tools (possession, etc.) 
i. Malicious mischief 
j. Obscene literature 
k. Parole violation 
1. Public miisances 
m. Subversive activities 
n. Trespass 

o. Miscellaneous (not otherwise classified) 
27. Suspicion 


2S. Lost 

a. Persons 

b. Animals 

c. Property 

'O. VV. Wilson: Fulice Records. Chicago, Public Adininistiatioii Service, 1942, p. 257. 

278 Basic Police Report Writing 

29. Found 

a. Persons 

b. Animals 

c. Property 


30. Fatal Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents 

a. C^ollision with pedestrian 

b. Collision with another motor vehicle 

c. Collision with railroad train 

d. Collision with street car 

e. Collision with animal-drawn vehicle 

f. Collision with bicycle 

g. Collision with animal 

h. Collision with fixed object 

i. Non collision; overturned on roatlway 

j. Non collision; ran oft roadway 

k. Other non collision 

1. Miscellaneous 

31. Personal Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents 

(Same subdivisions as appear under Item 30) 

32. Property Damage Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents 
(Same subdivisions as appear under Item 30) 

33. Other Traffic Accidents (except motor vehicle) 

a. Railroad accidents 

b. Street car accidents 

c. Other traffic accidents 

34. Public Accidents (except firearms and dog bite) 

a. Drownings 

b. Falls 

c. Burns, conflagrations, explosions 

d. Motor vehicle non-traffic 

e. Other vehicular non-traffic 

f. Other types 

35. Home Accidents (except firearms and dog bite) 

a. Falls 

b. Burns, scalds, conflagrations, explosions 

c. I^oisonous gas 

'Ibid., 257-259. 

Al>l>ru(li\ r, 21'.) 

(I. Mcdiaiiiciil siilloialion 
c. Poison (cx(C|)t gas) 
1. Motoi Nchidc 
li. (iiit or scratch 
g. Other lypc's 

36. Oaupalioiial A((i(lc'iils ((.'xccj)! (rallu and olhi r ])u!)Ii( , (ii cai ins, 
and tlog bile) 

a. Handling objcxls 

b. Kails 

c. iNfachinciy 

d. Motor vehidcs 
c. Other vehicles 

f. Falling objects 

g. Using hand tools 

h. Burns, conflagrations, explosions 
i. Other ty[)es 

37. Firearm Accidents (not suicide) 

a. Home 

b. Occupational 

c. Pid^lic 

38. Dog Bites 

a. Home 

b. Occupational 

c. Public 

39. Suicides 

40. Suicide Attenijjts 

41. Sudden Death and Bodies I'ound 

42. Sick Cared For 

43. Mental Cases 


44. Miscellaneous Service Rej)orts 

45. Miscellaneous Public Reports 

46. Special Orders 

47. General Orders 

48. Rules anil Regulations 

Hbid., p. 259. 

Appendix C 


'ne of the five principal activities of the police, along with 
prevention and repression of crime, apprehension of criminals, 
and regulation of conduct, is the recovery of lost and stolen prop- 
erty. This function serves the public well by cutting down the 
cost of crime, aiding the department's public relations, providing 
good officer contacts and furnishing leads which frequently result 
in the apprehension of theives. The efficiency of an individual of- 
ficer, and consequently his department, in the recovery of property 
depends almost entirely upon how accurately property is described 
in field notes and subsequent investigation reports. 

System and logic are especially important in describing prop- 
erty. Since most people naturally take familiar things as a matter 
of course and pay very little attention to them, it is frequently 
necessary, figuratevly, to drag from them descriptions of their most 
prized possessions. It is commonplace for officers to have to inter- 
rogate at length the victim of a burglary to obtain even the most 
meager description of the property he has lost. Thus, in order that 
none of the questions which might disclose some point of identifi- 
cation is overlooked, a formida for the description of property has 
been developed. 


1. Assign a number to each article in the list of lost or stolen 

2. State the quantity of the article. 
?). Indicate the kind of article. 

4. Note the material from which the article is made. 

5. Record the physical description of the article. 
G. State the physical condition of the article. 

7. Determine and record the value of the article. 


/Il)l)rii(lix C 281 

The above loinuila may be applied lo describe any article, 
even a domestic animal; it may be pasted in the front of the officers 
Held notebook as a guide while interrogating a victim. 

The Order of Articles Listed in a Report 

In carrying out ihc theme of system and logic in property des- 
criptions, some recognition must be given to importance, value, 
and ease of identification of articles by listing them in predeter- 
mined order in the report. Art ides shoidd be listed in order as 

1 . Articles bearing nmnbers. 

2. Articles bearing initials or personal names, 
■i. Articles bearing identifying marks. 

4. Articles bearing identifying characteristics. 

5. Articles without market value. 

Number of the Article in the List of Articles 

Each separate article must be given a list number in the entire 
list of articles. This number identifies the article should it become 
necessary to refer to it in other reports, correspondence, and tele- 
types. For example, list the articles as follows: 




Number of the Quantity of the Article 

A number should follow the number of the article in the list of 
articles. This number indicates the quantity of the article. If one 
arti( le was lost or stolen, the (juantity of the article is (1) . Note 
that this number is placed in parenthesis. For example: 

1. (1) WATCH. 

Kind of Article 

The number of the article in the list of articles and the nimiber 
of the quantity of the article should be followed by the kind of 
article. This includes the name, designation of whom or what the 
article is designed lor, trade name, maiuifacturer and/or seller. 
For example: 

1 . (1) WA TCH, man's wrist, Elgin 

282 Basic Police Report Writing 


The kind of artic Ic is follow cd Ijy the material from which it is 

If the material is metal it should be designated as yellow metal,' 
white metal, gold metal, green metal, brass, copper, etc., followed 
by the kind of metal claimed by the victim, for example: WM, pla- 
tinimi claimed. It is unwise to take the responsibility for judging, 
from the victim's description, exactly what kind of metal is in- 
\()lved. Note that the material may be abbreviated. 

In the identification of jewels, the same procedure is followed: 
red stone, green stone, etc., followed by the kind of stone claimed. 

Diamonds are designated as white stones." When a white stone 

is taken to a pawnshop, the pawnbroker will call it a diamond if it 

is a diamond; however, if it is not he will usually show it as a white 

stone in his records. For example, describe the material as follows: 

1. (1) WATCH, man's wrist, Elgin, YAL 2-1K gold claimed .... 

Great care should be exercised in describing other materials. 
Cloth generally is described by the victim as "silk" may be rayon, 
bemberg, taffeta, pongee, shantung, satin, crepe, or nylon. 
"Leather" may be artificial leatherette, cowhide, horsehide, seal- 
skin, ostrich, alligator, snakeskin, calfskin, or a number of others. 
"Wool" may be all wool, half wool, virgin wool, or reclaimed wool. 

^Solid gold is 24 karat gold. "Karat," when used as a designation for gold, is a unit of 
quality of fineness and means that, in the case of 24 karat gold, there are 24 grains— a 
unit of weight— to the pennyweight, also a unit of weight. Since pure gold is soft, it 
is mixed with a base metal to give it better wearing quality. Therefore, 18 karat gold 
means that there are 18 grains of gold and 6 grains of base metal to the pennyweight. 
"K" is the abbreviation for karat. Twenty-four grains equal pennyweight in Troy 
measure. Metals may be gold-filled, rolled gold, gold-plated, or gold-washed. Gold- 
filled and rolled gold articles are those with a veneer of gold metal on a base metal, 
lioth processes are the same except that the gold on a gold-filled article is of greater 
karat value than on a rolled gold article. A gold-filled article is .03 K or more. A 
rolled gold article is .01.5 K to .0.'? K. Gold-plated or gold-washed articles are electro- 
plated with gold of below .Ol.'S karat value. 

-A "carat," when used in connection with diamonds or other precious stones, is a unit 
of weight amounting to about ?)-\j\() grains, which makes slightly more than 15.5 
carats equal to 1 ounce. The carat in diamonds and other stones has nothing to do 
with quality. Diamonds are often designated as so many points, and a "point" means 
1/100 of a carat. The abbreviation for the stone carat it "ct." 

Appi'udix C 283 

Sihcr ware may 1k' stci iin<;, which is 25/100 pure silver and 75/100 
copper or other metal, or it may be plated ware. 

Physical Description 

In the interest of accuracy and increased possibilities of later 
identification, the jihysical description of property should include 
such items as model, size," shape, color, pattern,* measurements, 
style, and identifying marks. 

Identifying marks may include numbers,'' initials, marks placed 
on the article l)y the owner, damage, repairs, and scratches.' For 


1. (1) WATCH, man's wrist, Elgin, YM, 24K gold claimed, size 
10, "Lord Elgin," case#675342, movement #365471 

Physical Condition 

Noting the condition of the article involves recording the time 
when it was purchased; ^vhether new or used when purchased; the 
state of repair, such as shabby, dirty, worn, mended, patched, clean, 
etc. For example: 

I. (1) WATCH, man's wrist, Elgin, YM, 24K gold claimed, size 
10, "Lord Elgin," case #675341, movement #3 6547 1 pur- 
chased Robert Jewelry Co., 1210 Main St., St. Louis, Missouri 
1950, several scratches on back of case. 

^For example, watches come in sizes classified by the diameter of the face and the 
thickness of the movement. Swiss watches are measured in lignes (1 ligne equals 1/32 
inch) . Swiss watches are manufactured in sizes from 3-3 4 to 14 lignes. American 
watches are assigned arbitrary numerical sizes from 26/0 to 18.5. Most common 
American pocket watch sizes are 12, 16, and 18. 

*Flat silver, which is table silver, has a pattern name; it is important to know what 
company made the set, since there are duplications of names among the various lines. 
Whether the set is sterling or plate should be ascertained. 

^Typewriters, tools, radios, television sets, and many pieces of equipment have serial 
numbers. For example, the popular American-made watches, such as Elgin, Howard. 
Hamilton, \Valtham, and Illinois, have both a case number and a movement number. 
Cheap watches do not have either. Bulova, Gruen, Tavannes, VVestfield, and some 
others have a case number only. Silver services, silver dishes, and trays have a lunnber 
on the bottom and usually a hallmark or trademark. 

"Expensive jewelry frequently will have a jeweler's .scratch mark engraved by the 
inauufacturer near the trademark under a 10 power glass, which makes it practically 
iiuisihle to the naked eye. The seller will usually have a record of this nundjer. 
Jewelers usually mark watches with a distiiulive mark at the time of repair. 

284 Basic Police Report Writing 


Recording of tlie value of an article involves a listing of in- 
surance coverage and name of the insurance company if the article 
is insured, original cost, and current market value. 

Example of Complete Description 

An example of a complete description of a lost or stolen watch 
might be as follows: 

1. (!) WATCH, man's pocket, Waltham, hunting case, purchased 
at Kay Jewelry Co., 25 6th St., S.F., in 1940, YM, 18K gold 
claimed, "Vagabond," size 16, 23 jewel, double back inner snap, 
hinged outer screw back, screw crystal, stem wind, white face, 
.Arabic numerals, second hand at 6 o'clock, back bearing em- 
bellished script initials ".\BC." Case #1234567, movement 
#765431. Last repaired by A. R. Brown, 146 Powell St., in 1947. 
Owner's own mark, three dots in triangle above inside inner 
back cover. Small dent on left edge. Purchase price SI 10.00. 
Market Value S65.00. 

Directory of Descriptions of Articles Most Commonly Lost or 

Police records indicate that the following kinds of articles are 
most frequently lost or stolen: (1) binoculars; (2) cameras; (3) 
clothing; (4) firearms; (5) handbags; (6) jewelry; (7) luggage; 
(8) musical instruments; (9) radios; and (10) tools. Due to the 
difficulty most persons, including police officers, experience in 
describing these common articles, a directory of descriptions fol- 


1. Xtnnbcr of I lie article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 
3- Kind of article. 

4. Material. 

5. Physical description. 

Poioer and size. The first number indicates power; the 

second number indicates the size of the lens in millimeters, 

for example: 8x30. 

Type of focusing. Central or single eye. 

Bridge. Hinged or solid bridge. 

Apjjcndix C 285 

Barrels. Describe tlic k'n<rili aiul covering material of the 


Lens. Coated, etc. 

Description oj the carryiri^a^ case (if any) . 
(). ConditioJi 



Signs of wear. 

7. I'dhie 

Where and xvhen purchased. 

Purchase price. 

Market value. 


1. S umber oj the article in the list of articles. 

2. (hiantily of the article. 

3. Kind oj article. 

4. Material. 

5. Physical description. 

Numbers. Locate and record two numbers on valuable 

cameras: one on the lens, another on the camera itself. 

Owner's Description. Accept and record the owners des- 
cription of the camera. 

Description of the carrying case (if any) . 
(3. Conditio}}. 



Signs of wear. 

7. J'alue. 

Where and ivhen purchased. 

Purchase price. 

Market value. 


Suits— nien's and leoujen's.' 

1. Xuniber of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

'\\'omen's tailored suits and coats have the same general identifving chaiacterisiics as 
mens suits and overcoats. The word "tailored." when applied to anv article of 
women's wear, means plain or without decoration. 

286 Basic Police Report Writing 

4. Material. 

Description of pattern in iveave. 

Describe as: whipcord, serge, gabardine, flannel, tweed, 

broadcloth, worsted, etc. 

5. Physical description. 

Color. Get color as exactly as possible. 

Size. Women's suits are described by size number. 

Men's suits come in three lengths: short, medium, and long, 

plus the size number. For example, size 40 will be found in 

short, medium, and long. 

Labels. State the manufacturer's label, usually found inside 

of inside coat pocket of men's suits. State the retailer's 

label, usually found outside of inside coat pocket or at the 

nape of neck of men's suits. In women's suits there is no 

uniform placement of labels." 

Cleaning marks. 

Owner's name.^ 

6. Condition. 


Repairs. Mended, patched, etc. 

Signs of wear. 

7. Value 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 
Coats— men's and women's suit coats," overcoats, or topcoats. 

1. Nutnber of the article in the list of articles." 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 


Cardigan, etc. Men's sport coats and women's suit and top 

coats are of this kind. 

4. Material. 

Describe as in the case of suits. 

5. Physical description. 


Single or double breasted. Record how many buttons 

*See further description of coats and trousers for additional description of suits. 

Include description of coat and trousers in the suit description when an entire suit 

is lost or stolen. 

"Tailor-made suits frequently have the owner's name or initials on the inner coat 

pocket. Some tailors and furriers have the customer sign the inner lining of the coat 

near the front; it is necessary to loosen the lining to see the name. 

i^Describe any coat of waist length as a "jacket." 

"If the coat is a part of a suit, describe the coat along with the entire suit. 

Appendix C 287 

and how many buttons will button in double breasted 


Lapels. Peaked, semi-peaked, notched. Woman's toals 

may have a wing lapel. 

Shaxol. On tuxedos. 

Button holes in one or more lapels. 
Pockets. Patch or inset; with or without flaps; piped: extra 
cash pocket; number and location of inside pockets. 
Lining. Color and type of material; full, half, or (juarter 

Back. Box, with or without seam; conservative, slightly 
form fitting; form fitting; pronounced form fitting; drape, 
extremely form fitting; lounge, hangs from shoulders to 
hips, where it is snug; wedge shaped, non-form fitting at 
waist; sport back, half belt with pleats-may or may not 
have "free swing or vent"— may have two vents. 
Stitched or welted edge. 

6. Condition. 

See men's and women's suits. 

7. Value. 

See men's and luomen's suits. 

Overcoats and topcoats— men's and women's 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 


4. Material. 

Describe the same as men's and xuomen's suit coats. 

5. Physical description. 

Describe generally as you would a suit coat. 

Lining. May be removable, zipper, or button. 

Pockets. May be slashed. 

Sleeves, May be split, adjustable cuff tabs. In women's coats 

only, they may be leg-o'-mutton, fitted to elbow, or all the 

way; length of sleeve— short, elbow, three-quarter or long. 

Trim. May be found on women's coats only. The trim may 

be different collar, cuffs, bottom. The trim may consist of 

pleats, front or back. 

Fly front. 



Region shoulders. Hangs from the shoulders. 



288 Basic Police Report Writing 

6. Condition. 

See men's and women's suits. 

7. J'aluf. 

See men's and women's suits. 
Trousers— men's and women's slacks.^- 

1. Xumber of the article in the list of articles." 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind or article. 

Men's trousers. 
Women's slacks. 

4. Material. 

Describe as in the case of suits. 

5. Physical description.'* 

Waistband. Regular, with waistband and loops at the top: 
drop belt loops, with waistband and bek loop on waistband 
and the other end below; 

French icaistband, no visible waistband and belt loops be- 
low the top of trousers; extended xoaistband, waistband con- 
tinued beyond fly, and buttoned. 
Cufjs or none. 

Pleats. Give the number and whether turned in or out. 
Pockets. Patch or inset, with or without flaps, etc. 

6. Condition 

See men's and women's suits. 

7. Value. 

See men's and women's suits. 
Women's Clothes, generally 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

Blouse, etc. 

4. Material. 


Color. Plain or figured, including color and design of figure. 

5. Physical description. 

Trim . 



'-Men's and women's tailored slacks in many cases are similar even to the front Hy. 
"If the trousers are a part of the suit, describe them along with the entire suit. 
"Apply the physical description of trousers to the description of tlie entire suit if 
they are a part of a suit. 

A()j)('n(li.\ C 289 

Braid or pipiiifr. 

Eiiil)r()i(lcry or ( lit work. 

Describe as pari of a suit if such is the case. 



Slashed or slitted. Give Icjcatioii and length of slit. 


Niunber of panels or gores. 
(3. CotuUdon. 

Neic or used. 

Signs of IV ear. 

Repairs. Mended, etc. 
7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 

Purchase price. 

Market value. 

1. Xumber of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 


4. Material. 




Silk and ivool. 


Cotton top and I or feet. 

5. Physical Description 


Foot size. 

Color. Clocks or heel decorations. 


Medium weight. 

Service weight. 

Denier or gauge. 

Run-proof weave, etc. 
Seam or seamless. 


290 Basic Police Report Writing 

6. Condition. 


Signs of wear. 

Repairs. Mended, etc. 

7. Value. 

Where and zohen purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market price. 
Jackets, men's. 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

4. Material. 



Leather. Describe the kind. 

5. Physical description. 

Color. Design and weave. 



Number. Inside and outside. 

Kind. Slash, inset, patch, muff-type, flap. 

Fastenings. Zipper or button. 

Knitted. Also describe cufl:s on leather jacket. 

Fur or pile. 

Lapels. Describe as in coats. 


Parka hood. 


Material. Rayon, quilted, sheepskin, blanket. 

Plain, half-belt, swing shoulders. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of loear. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market price. 
Shirts, men's 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

Appendix C 291 

2. (luaritily of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 


4. Material. 




Rayon gabardine. 


Oxford weave. 
'). Physical description. 




Collar style. 

With or without collar. 


Collar size. 
Sleeve length. 
Buttons. Number on cuffs if more than one, as cowboy 
shirts; button down collar; number of buttons down the 

Pockets. Number, with or without flaps. 
Cufjs. Regular, for cuff links, French cuffs. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of wear. 
Repairs. Mended, etc. 

7. Value. 

Where and ivhen purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 
Siv eaters 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 




4. Material. 

All wool. 

'^Sport shirts come in small, medium and large. 

292 Basic Police Report Writing 

Half u'ool. 
Virgin wool. 
Reclaimed wool. 

5. Physical description. 


Coat. Button or zipper. 

Pull over. 




Crew neck. 

Turtle neck. 

V neck. 

Roll collar. 
Sleeve or sleeveless. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of wear. 
Repairs. Mended, etc. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

Stole, etc. 

4. Material. 



^'Since furs are so difTicult to recover, it is very necessary to get as complete a de- 
scription of the piece as possible. 

'"Rabbit has been gi\en many trade names: coney, beaverette, lapin, scalene. Arctic 
seal, Belgium beaver, bluette, casterette, chinchillette, erminette. French sable, Galland 
squirrel, marmotinc, minkony, moline, nutriettc. twin beaver, or Baltic leopard. 

Appendix C 293 


Manchuniin dog.'^ 

Hudson seal. ( Hiis is plucked, dyed nuiskrat.) 

Mouton. (This is sheared himb and looks like beaver) . 




3. Physical description. 

Color. (Indicate ^vhether dyed or natural.) 

Material. (Color, bindings and piping.) 

Leuirth. The length is measured from the bottom of the 
collar down the back. It may be 3,^ length, fingertip, or a 

Fasteners. Frogs, hooks and eyes, buttons, or snaps. 
How wany skins. If the fur is a neckpiece, are heads and/or 
tails sewed on. 

6. Condition. 

Xeio or used. 
Signs of wear. 
Repairs. Who made the repairs. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 


1. Xuinber oj the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

4. Material. 

5. Physical description. 



Serial number. Some guns have hidden serial numbers 

Manv foreign makes have no serial number at all. 

Finish. Nickel plated, blue, rough, or sandblasted. 

Lenoili of barrel. 2in., 4in.. 6in., etc. 

'\Skunk may be called civet cat, .\laska sable, black marten. 
'"Manchurian dog is often called Belgium lynx, black poiict fo.\. 

294 Basic Police Report Writing 

Grips. Give the material, color, and type. 

Loaded or unloaded. 
('•). Condition. 




Signs of wear. 
7. Value. 

Where and ivhen purchased. 

Purchase price. 

Market value. 


1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

4. Material. 


Patent leather. 






Reptile. Alligator, lizard, snake. 

Cloth. Cord, petit point, moire, etc. 


5. Physical description. 

Style. Pouch, box, envelope, underarm, shoulder strap. 
Handles. Pannier and double pannier, cuff, wrist, plastic, 
chain, etc. 

Fasteners. Zipper, turnlock, lift lock, snap lock. 
Inside description. Lining, material and color; label: num- 
ber of divisions; attached coin purse, etc. 
Contents. Accessories, comb, lighter, lipstick holder, address 
book, etc. Give a complete list of contents. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of ivear. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 

Appendix C 295 

Jewelry, Generally'-" 

1. Xunibcr of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 



Scatter pin. 

Breastpin or brooch. 


Cuff buttons. 

Cuff links. 



4. Material. 

Yellow metal. 
White metal. 
Other material. 

5. Physical description. 




6. Condition. 


7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 

Bracelets and Anklets 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

'^Jewelry, in general, includes all types of jewelry except rings, necklaces, earrings, 

bracelets, and watches. 

=^Novelty jewelry may include figures, charms, scatter pins, bracelets, necklaces, rings 

or any other jewelry. Novelty jewelry is of little value and is usually gaudy and set 

with cheap rhinestoncs of various colors. 

"Costume jewelry is difficult to distinguish from novelty jewelry. That novelty 

jewelry which is more expensive and indicates better workmanship may be called 

costume jewelry. 


296 Basic Police Report Writing 

3. Kind of article. 


4. Material. 

Yelloii' metal. 
White metal. 
Gold metal. 

5. Physical description. 




Bangle or charm. 



How the settings are mounted. 

Distance between sets. 

Number of sets. 

Kind and color of sets. 

6. Condition. 

New or old. 

7. Value. 

Where and zvhen purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 


1. Xumber of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Qiiantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

4. Material. 

Yelloiv metal. 
White metal. 
Other material. 

5. Physical description. 







For pierced ears. 


Appendix C 297 



Design. Describe the design. 
(i. Condition. 

Sew or Old. 

7. Idluc. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 


1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. (luantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

Novelty, etc. 

4. Material. 

Yelloiu metal. 
White metal. 
Gold metal, etc. 

5. Physical description. 


Chain. Give size and design of links. 




Crystal. Artificial, tin cut, rock. 

Stones. Number of stones and space between them. 
Number of Strands. 
Length of Strands. 

6. Condition. 

New or Old. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Pun liusc price. 
Market price. 


1. .Xuuiher of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Ouantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

298 Basic Police Report Writing 






4. Material. 

Yellow metal. 
White metal. 

5. Physicial description. 

Name of manufacturer. 
Name of the watch, (brand) 
Distinctive brand name. 

Lord Elgin 

Vagabond, etc. 

Number of jewels. 

Descriptive characteristics of case and movement. 
Case number. 
Movement number. 
Initials or engravings. 

6. Condition. 



Identifying marks. 


Repairs. The person who last repaired the watch. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market prcie. 


1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 




4. Material. 

Yellow metal. 
White metal. 

Appendix C 299 

5. Physical description. 

limbleni. Lodge, fraternity, class, school. 

Signet. Give initials and type of letters. 

Old Knglish. 

Seal ring. 

Dinner ring. 

Wedding ring. 

Engagement ring. 
Size. Size 1 is 15/32 in. inside diameter; 
each size increases 1/32 in. 







White stone.*" 

Birthstone.^ Describe as red stone, green stone, etc. 



'"The Belcher mounting involves a round stone set into a slightly raised mounting 

consisting of six heavy prongs holding the set in place. 

^*A Bezel mounting is one in which the set is held in the ring, brooch, or pin by a 

groove or flange. The groove or flange may extend all around the mounting or be on 

the corners or sides only. 

^A Gypsy mounting is one in which the stone is set directly into the ring all the way 

around by use of the Bezel or groove. 

''"A Tiffany mounting is one in which the stone is set on a high mounting and held 

in place by 6 to 8 rather delicate prongs. 

-"A claw mounting is any prong mounting other than a Tiffany. 

^In the Basket mounting the stone is set into the mounting as in the Gypsy mounting 

but has filigree work around the stone. 

=^A11 diamonds must be described as white stones. There are some black, pink, blue, 

green, and brown diamonds, but these are so rare; they are museum pieces. Describe a 

diamond as white stone, diamond claimed. 

'"Birthstones may be garnet, amethyst, bloodstone, aquamarine, emerald, or others. 

^'A Cameo setting is a carved, raised figure, usually a head. 

^An intaglio is a figure carved into a stone. 

300 Basic Police Report IVritiiig 

Type of (III. 



Cut stone. 
Marks, engraiiing.s, etc. 

6. Condition. 


Signs of wear. 

Repairs. Give name of jeweler. 
7. J' a I lie. 

Wliere and xolien purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 



1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind or article. 

Gladstone. A suitcase-size bag which opens flat. 

Club bag. A box bottom bag with the top forming the apex 

of a triangle, closes with zipper or locks. 

Week-end bag. May be fitted or fortnighter-a small trunk 

carried like a suitcase. 

4. Material. 


Patent leather. 


Top grain cou'hide. 

Split cowhide. 

Rawhide, etc. 

5. Physical description. 

Size or measurements. 

Inside description. Lining and color, number of partitions, 
pockets, etc. 
fi. Condition. 

Winic or initials. 
Signs of wear. 

7. Value. 

Where and irlicn purchased. 

A l>l>cn(lix ('. 


/';/)( liiisr j)yii ('. 
Mm hcl I'lilur. 
'l~) links 

1. Xiinihc) of tlif intiilr in the list of articles. 

2. Oiunilit\ of III!' article. 
"i. Kind or article. 

Foot locker. With or without tray. 

Steamer or wardrobe trunk. Niimhcr of hangers and 


Box trunk. 

4. Material. 

Metal, etc. 

5. Physical description. 

Size or measurements. 

Inside description. Lining and color, number of compart- 
ments, etc. 
Name or initials. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of wear. 

7. J'alite. 

Where and when purcha.sed. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 
Brief cases and brief bags 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. (Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 

Brief case. 
Brief bag. 

4. Material. 

Leather. Top grain cowhide, split cowhide, rawliide, etc. 
Patent lenllier. 
Imitation leather, etc. 

5. Physical description. 

Size or measurements. 

Handles. Single or double handles. 


302 Basic Police Report W'ntmo^ 

Straps. With or without straps. Do the straps go all the way 


Inside description. 

Number of compartments. 


Musical Instruments 

1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of articles. 

Trumbone, etc. 

4. Material. 

5. Physical description. 

Make. Manufacturer. 
Serial Number. 

Pitch. Most wind instruments are made in varying pitch; 
e.g., saxophones are in C, E flat tenor, and B flat bari- 
tone. Clarinets are in A, B flat tenor and bass. The same 
applies to many string instruments. 

Finish. Brass, silver, gold, rough or sandblasted. Gold or 
brass with silver design or vice versa, silver with gold bell. 
Description of case. Give complete description, including 
attachments and other articles in the case. 

6. Condition. 

Signs of wear. 

7. Value. 

Where and when purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Market value. 


1. Number of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Quantity of the article. 

3. Kind of article. 


^In descriptions of television sets use the same information as radios. In addition, give 
size of screen and number of control knobs under physical description. 

Appendix C 303 

Table model. 

Console, etc. 
4. Material. 




X umber oj lubes. 
5.. Physical description. 

Brand or Make. 

Table model. 

Dud. Hori/onal or vertical slot, round, slide ride or halt 

cin Ic. 

Brauds. AM. KM. sliorl wave. 

Xumber of knobs. 

Drscnption oj case. Color and material. 

Recordplayer (if any) . 

Serial number. In small radios the serial nund)er is usually 

inside, out of sight. 
6. Condition. 




Signs of iL'ear. 
7. Value. 

Where and luhen purchased. 

Purchase price. 

Market value. 


1. Xumber of the article in the list of articles. 

2. Qiiantity of I he article. 

3. Kind of article. 

Carpenter's level, etc. 

4. Material. 

5 Physical description. 

Standard information. Include all standard information as 

obtained from the owner. The owner usually knows such 

tools, their names and uses. 

Description of chest or box (if any) . 

Serial numbers. Give serial numbers of those tools that have 


Electrically operated. Designate any tool that is electrically 


304 Basic Police Reporl lVriti}ig 

6. Conditio?!. 

Damage. Indicate marks and scratches, stating what and 

7. Value. 

Where and luhen purchased. 
Purchase price. 
Mnrlict -iUilue. 


Alcliciiv, Llc'whii \\ .. and Brook, F.: Modii.s Opexindi. London. His 

Majesty's Stationery Office, 1932, <)() jjjx 
Aurner, Robert R.: Effectix'e Business Enii^lish. ''Md ed. Cincinnati, Soutli- 

\Vestern. 19-19, 582 pp. 
Bristow, Allen P.: Field Interroiidtiou. Springfield, Charles Q\ Thomas, 

Publisher. 1958, 101 pp. 
Brooks. Philip C: Public Records Maiuigetnerit. Chicago, Public Ad- 
ministration Service, 1949, 19 pp. 
Calilornia Department of Education, Bureau of Trade and Industrial 

Education: Description of Property. Sacramento, 1952, 24 pp. 

, Field Notetaking. Sacramento, 1950, 24 pp. 

, Modus Operandi Report Writing. Sacramento, 1949. 22 pp. 

, Police Records. Sacramento, 1949, 28 pp. 

, Traffic Accident Records and Analysis. Sacramento, 1949, 14 pjj. 

, I'se of Records. Sacramento, 1949, 28 pp. 

California Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Identification 

and Investigation: Modus Operandi and Crime Reporting. Sacra- 
mento, 1955, 23 pp. 
Dienstein, William: TecJinics for the Crime Investigator. Springfield, 

Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1952, 182 pp. 
Gabard, E. Caroline and Kenney, John P.: Police ]Vriti)ig. Springfield, 

Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1957, 93 pp. 
Gregg Publishing Division: Tioenty Thousand Words. New York. Mc- 

Graw Hill Company, 1951, 244 pp. 
Hazlett, JohnC: Police Report Writing. Si)ringfield, Charles C Thomas, 

Publisher, 1960,238 pp. 
Hefifron, Floyd N.: Evidence for the Patrolman. SjMingfield. Charles C 

Thomas, Publisher, 1958, 182 pp. 
Hollywood Police Department: Summary ExpUniation of Report Forms. 

Hollywood, Florida, Hollywood Police Department, 1957, 67 pp. 
International Association of Chiefs of Police, Committee on Uniform 

Crime Records: Uniform Crime Reporting, Rev. ed. New York, The 

Association, 1949, 464 pp. 
Leonard, V. A.: Police Communications Systems. Berkeley. University 

of California Press, 1938, 589 pp. 


306 Basic Police Report Writifig 

Nortlnvcstern University Traffic Institute: Accident Itivestigation 
Ahniiial. Evanston, Northwestern University Traffic Institute, 1948, 
2H pp. 

Odell, Margaret K. and Strong, Earl P.: Records Management and Filing 
Operations. New York, McGraw-Hill Company, 1947, 342 pp. 

O'Hara, Charles E.: Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation. Spring- 
field, Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1956, 722 pp. 

Perrin, Porter G. and Smith, George H.: The Perrin-Smith Handbook 
of Current English. Chicago, Scott, Foresman and Company, 1955, 
591 pp. 

Ross, J. L.: Suggested Rules for Report Writing. Berkeley, Berkeley 
Police Department, 1957, 4 pp. 

Santmyers, Selby S.: Practical Report Writing. Scranton, Laurel Pub- 
lishers, 1950, 120 pp. 

Scott, Walter R.: Fingerprint Mechanics Handbook. Springfield, Charles 
C Thomas Publisher, 1951, 442 pp. 

Soderman, Harry and O'Connell, John J.: Modern Criminal Investiga- 
tion. New York, Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1952, 557 pp. 

U. S. Department ot the Air Force. Air Force Manual A^o. 11-3, Guide 
for Air Force Writing. Washington, D. C, Department of the Air 
Force, 1953, 133 pp. 

U. S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Manual of 
Police Records. 1953, 56 pp. 

-.Uniforrn Crime Reports, a quarterly bulletin. Washington, D. C, 

Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

: Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook. Washington, D. C, Federal 

Bureau of Investigation, 1955, 55 pp. 

Wilson, O. W.: Police Administration. New York, McGraw-Hill 
Company, 1950, 540 pp. 

: Police Records: Their Installation and Use. Chicago, Public Ad- 
ministration Service, 1942, 336 pp. 

Young, Richard: Report Writing and Descriptions. Berkeley, Berkeley 
Police Department, 1954, 28 pp. 


Abbreviations, 57-61 
capilali/atioii of, 54, 59 
dates and plates, 58 
general, (il 
names and titles, 58 
plurals of, 60 
pniutuation of, 59 
.\bduction, classification of, 277 
Accident, traffic 

classification of, 278-279 
description of, 166 
type of, 165-166 
rural, 161 
urban, 160 
violations inilicated, 163 
Accidents, classification of 
firearms, 279 
liome, 278 
occupational, 279 
public, 278 
trafTic, 278 
Accident, investigation of 
description of, 166 
report, 155 
Adjectives, 264 

demonstrative, 268 
Adjectives, proper use of, 29 
Adverbs, 264 

Aggravated assault, classification of, 273 
Agreement of nouns and pronouns, 267 
number, 267 
person, 267 
Alcohol influence report, 227-233 
Ambiguity, 65 

Amputations, descriptions of, 256 
Anklets, description of, 295-296 
A})c)str()plie, use of, 74-75 
Arrest record, 224-235 

alcohol influence report, 227-233 

arrest sheet, 224-227 
hold for investigation report, 230-231 
injured prisoner report, 234-235 
request for court change, 232-233 
request for internnicnt, 233-234 

Arrest sheet, 224-227 

Assaults, classihcation of, 273-274 

Attack of suspect, 127, 132-136, 147-149 
how attacked, 133 
means of attack, 134 
object of attack, 135 
person attacked, 132 

Auto theft report, 147-149 


Bags, description of, 300 
Bicycle report, 147-149 
Binoculars, description of, 284 
Bracelets, description of, 295-296 
Brackets, use of, 76 
Brief cases, description of, 301 
Build, description of, 255 
Burglary, classification of, 273 


Cameras, description of, 285 
Capitalization, 51-56 

capitalization of abbreviations, 54 

cases calling for, 51 

cases not calling for, 54 

in the sentence, 51 

proper adjectives, 52 

proper nouns, 52 

words of 

family relationship, 53 

names of time, 53 

sections of coimtry, 53 

titles of books, 53 
Case of nouns and pronouns, 265 
nominative, 265 
objective, 266 




possessive, 206 
Case sheets, 109-123 

iHiiiii)ci of copies, 1 11 

preparation of, 109 
C:asiialities, classification of, 278-270 
Casnalty sheet, 120 
Charge, reasons for, 213 
Clothing, description of, 285-29.3 
Coherence, 64 
Collision, type of, 16') 166 
Colon, use of, 72-73 
Comma, 69-72 
Complaint memo, 119 
Complaint sheet, general, 113 

casualty sheet, 120 

content of, 115 

miscellaneous, 120 
Complexion, description of, 255 
Conjunctions, 265 

coordinating, 265 

subordinating, 265 
Consonants, 32 
Copyreading marks, 86 
Counterfieting, classification of, 274 
Costs, description of, 286-287 
Crime, details of, 138 
Criminal homicide, classification of, 273 


Dash, use of, 74 

Description of bicycle, 149 

Description card, 253-254 

Description of property, 237, 245, 280- 

Dictionary, use of, 31 
Dictionary, list of abbreviations, 57 
Disorderly conduct, classification of. 276 
Dog bites, classification of, 279 
Double negatives, 29 
Dress, description of, 256 
Driving while intoxicated, 276-277 
DrunkeiHiess, classification of, 276 

Earrings, description of, 296-29/ 
Editing, methods of 

copyreading, 85 

partner, 84 

personal, 82 

Embe/ziement, classification of, 274 

Emphasis, 64 

Evidence emelopes, 237, 239 

Evidence tags, 237, 240 

Exchimation marks, 69 

Exhibits for court, 219 


Fact-finding report, 7 

Field interrogation reports, 174 180 

contents of, 177 

design of, 176 

form of, 177 

filing of, 179 

objectives of, 176 
Field note taking. 93-107 

ef]uipment, 97 

formula for, 105 

interrogations, 95 

principles of, 94 
Fingerprint card, 248-253 

content of, 249 

procedure, 251 
Fingerprinting, rules. 252-253 
Firearms accidents, classification of, 279 
Firearms, description of, 293-294 
Forgery, classification of, 274 
Found property envelopes, 237-238 
Found property tags, 237, 240 
Fraud, classification of, 274 
Furs, de.scription of, 292-293 


Gambling, classification of, 276 
Grammar, elements of, 263-271 

agreement. 267-268 

case, 265-268 

forms of verbs, 268 

parts of speech, 263-265 

use of, 28 


Habits, description of, 256 
Hair, description of, 255 
Handbags, description of. 294 
Hold for imestigation report, 230-231 
Home accidents, classification of. 278- 

Homonyms, 41-49 
Hosiery, description of, 289 




hkiiiilualioii reports, 2tS-2()() 

liM<;(.i print card, 248-2")3 

plioiogiaphic report, 'J')? 

physical description card. 253 
Infinitives, split infinitives, 29 
Injnied prisoner report, 234-235 
Interjections. 26.") 
Internal business reports. 8 
Interrogation reports, field. 174-180 

content of. 177-178 

delinitions of, 174 

design of. 177 

forms of. 177 

objectixe of. 176 
Interrogations, techniciucs of. 9.")-97 
Italics, use of, 76-77 
Inter\iew and investigation smnniary. 

Intransiti\e \eri>s. 271 
Invitation to thieves report. 173 


Jackets, description of. 290 
Jewelrv. general descriptions of. 295 
Juvenile case history. 206-211 

Kind of localitv, meaning of, 165 

Laboratorv examination report, 206-207 

Larceny, classification of, 274 

Liquor laws, classification of, 276 

List of exhibits, 190,216-221 

Lost and found, classification of. 277-278 

animals. 277-278 

persons. 277-278 

propertv. 277-278 
Luggage, description of, 300-302 


Mannerisms, description of. 25() 
Marks, description of. 256 
Mechanics of report writing. 19 89 

ai)i)re\iations. 57-61 

capitali/ation. 51-55 

di\ ision of words. 49-50 

editing. 82-89 

paragrapii conslrutiion. 78-81 

punctuation. (57-77 
selection of words. 31-49 

sentence structure. 62-66 
spelling. 31-49 

use of numbers. 55-56 
Mental cases, classification of. 279 
Miscellaneous ser\icc complaint, 120-123 
Missing persons report. 143- 1 47 
Misspelled words, 35 
Modifiers. 63 

dangling, 63 

squinting, 63 
Modus operandi factors. 127. 130-137 

how attacked, 133 

means of attack. 134 

ofjject of attack, 135 

person attacked, 132 

propertv attacked, 1.32 

trademark. 135 

transportation used. 136 
Mood of verbs. 27 1-272 

imperatixe. 271 

indicative. 271 

subjunctive, 271 
Motor vehicle accidents, classification of. 

Mug form. 257. 259 
Mug sliot, 257 
Musical instruments, description of, 302 

Narcotic drug \iolations. classification of, 

Necklaces, description of. 297 
Notebook, field, 93, 95-98 
alphabetical system. 103 
care of. 100 

dailv diarv s\stem. 103 
internal arrangement of. 102 
sections of 

arrest. 100 

follow-up. 100 

military wants. 102 

miscellaneous. 102 

offense. 100 

outside wanted persons. 102 

stolen auto. 102 

stolen bicvcles, 102 



vacation, 100 

vagrant, 102 

wanted persons, 102 
use of 

court, 97 

interrogations, 95 
Noun, 263 
case, 265 
collective, 267 
common, 263 
definition of, 263 
proper, 263 
Numbers, 55 

military unit names, 55 

numerals, 55 

numbers spelled out, 56 


Occupation, description of, 257 
Occupational accidents, 279 
Offenses, uniform classification of. 111, 

offenses against person. 111 

offenses against property, 111 

part I cases, HI 

part 11 cases, 112 

part III cases, 112 

part IV cases, 113 

part V cases, 1 1 3 
Omissions, proper designation of, 77 
Operational reports. 7 
Overcoats, description of, 287-288 

Paragraphs, 78-81 

arrangement of, 79, 85 
principles of construction. 78, 85 
types of 

introductory, 81 
short. 78, 85 
sinnmarv, 81 
transition, 81 
Parentheses, use of, 75-86 
Parts of speech, 263-265 
nouns, 263 
pronouns, 263 
Patrol services, 168 
Patrol service reports, 168-180 

field interrogation reports, 174-180 

security conditions reports, 172-173 

special service reports, 173-174 

store reports, 169-170 

vacation home reports. 168-169 
Peculiarities, description of, 256 
Performance report, 7 
Period, the, 68 

Personal description sheet, 146 
Photographing prisoners, 257-259 

procedure, 259 
Photographs, identification, 220 
Phrasing, indirect, 64 
Physical description card, 253 
Physical description picture, 194-196 
Police communications, 5-6 
Preliminary investigation report, 124-141 

content of 
general, 127 
specific, 128 

how many, 145 

number of copies, 145 

persons missing, 143 

persons wanted, 143 

specific content of, 145 

when prepared, 145 
Prepositions. 265 
Principal parts of verbs, 268-270 
Prisoners property envelope, 247 
Prisoners property receipt, 244-245 
Problem determing report, 7 
Problem sohuion report, 7 
Pronouns. 263-264 

agreement. 267-268,29 

case, 265-266 

compoimd personal, 264 

defined, 263 

demonstrative, 264 

indefinite, 264 

interrogative, 264 

personal, 263 

relative, 263 
Property control reports, 236-247 

evidence envelopes, 239 

foimd property envelopes, 238 

general receipt for property, 243 

prisoner propcrtv envelope, 247 



piisimci |)i(>i)cit\ ii'icij)!, 'Jl") 
property envelopes, 237 
property index card, 240 
property rctorti, 2'U) 
property tags, 237 
receipt for automobile, 242 
records |)roccdure, 241 
Properly description of, 139, 280-304 
directory of, 284-303 
formula for, 280-284 
kind, 281 
material, 282 
number of articles, 281 
lumiber of (]uantit\, 281 
order of articles. 281 
physical conditiotr of. 283 
physical description of. 283 
value of, 284 
Prosecution reports, 212-218 
general content, 213 
parts of. 213 
body of, 213 
ending of, 213 
heading of, 213 
Prostitution, classification of, 275 
Public accidents, classification of, 21i 
Punctuation, 67-77 

apostrophe, 74 

brackets, 76 

colon, 72 

comma, 69 

dash, 74 

exclamation marks, 69 

hyphen. 76 

italics, 76 

omissions. 77 

parentheses, 75 

period. 68 

(]uesiion marks, 68 

([notation marks, 73 

semicolon, 72 

Question marks, 68-70 
Quotation marks, 73-74 


Radios, description of, 302-303 

K.ipe. ( iassihialioii of, 273 
Reports, 29 
definition of, 5 
purposes of, 6 
tyjjcs of. 6 
closing. 181 
progress, 181 

principles of, 12 
rewards for, 16 
values of. 9 
Report of laboratory exam, 206-207 
Reports, police 

arrest reports, 224-235 

case reports, 109-123 

final investigation, 212-223 

identificati(m, 248-260 

patrol service, 168-180 

preliminary investigation, 124-142 

property control, 236-247 

special preliminary investigation, 113- 

special supplementary investigation, 

supplementary progress, 181-193 
types of, 6-8 
Report writing, tnechanics of, 19-89 
Request for court change, 232 
Recjuest for internment, 233 
Rewriting. 83 

Rings, description of, 298-299 

character, meaning of, 165 
conditions, meaning of, 165 
surface, meaning of, 165 
width and lanes, 165 
Robbery, classification of, 273 


Scale drawings, 219 
Scars, description of, 256 
Scientific examinations, 220 

conduct of, 220 

reporting of, 220 
Security conditions reports, 172-173 
Semicolon, use of, 72 
.Sentences, 62-67 



types of 
clear, 62 
effective, (55 
simple, 62 
Sex offenses, classilication of. 275 
•Shirts, description of, 290-291 
Special service reports, 173-174 
Special supplementary investigation re- 
ports, 194-211 
juvenile case history, 206 
physical description picture. 196 
phvsical description of weapon. 197 
polvgrani envelope. 205 
report of laboratory examination. 206 
suspect description sheet, 194 
suspect line-up form, 202 
Speech, parts of, 263-265 
Spelling, 31-50 

rules, 33 
Store reports, 169 
Stolen property, 275 
buying, 275 
possessing, 275 
receiving, 275 
Suicides, classifrcation of, 279 

attempt, 279 
Summary reports, 8 
Summary supplementary report, 211 
Supplementary investigation report, 219. 

Supplementary progress reports, 181-193 
content of, 184 
design of, 183 
details of, 186 
distribution of, 191 
list of exhibits, 190 
nature of, 183 
parts of 

conclusions, 188 
ending, 190 
heading, 184-185 
reconunendations, 189 
undeveloped leads, 188 
Suspect, description of, 137 
Suspect description sheet, 194-202 
Sweaters, description of, 291-292 

'recliiiical leporls. 7, H 

1 eeth, description of, 256 

Telex ision sets, description of. 302 

lools, description of. 303-304 

Topcoats, description of, 287-288 

Trademark of suspect, 135-136 

Traffic control, meaning of, 164 

Traffic law \i(ilations, classification ol, 

1 ransiiixe \erbs, 271 
I ransportation of suspect, 136-137 
Trousers, description of, 288 
Trunks, description of, 301 
Typographical style, 86 


Unde\ eloped leads, 188 

content of, 188 

definition of, 188 

purpose of, 188 
Uniform classification of crimes, 273-279 

^'acation home inspections report. 171 
Vacation home reports, 168-169 
Vacation home notice, 169-170 
\'agrancy, classification of, 276 
\'ehicle accident report, 155-167 
\'ehicle condition, meaning of, 164 
\erbals, 264 

infmiti\e, 264 

geriuid, 264 

participle, 264 
\'crbs, 264-272 

forms of, 268-272 

intransitive, 271 

irregular, 268 

mood of. 271-272 

principle parts of. 268-270 

regidar, 268 

tense of, 270-271 

transitive. 271 
\isi()n obscured, meaning of. 164-165 
\'ocabidary. 21 
Voice of \erbs, 271, 63 



;u ii\c-. L'T I . ().'5 
passive, L'71 , ()3 
\ oucls. ;?'_' 


\\ anted ])iisoiis icpoil, I l.'M 17 

Wattlic's. dcsciiplioii ol, 2(17, 2H!I 

Wiliicssc's. list of. lii") 

\\ OiiH'ii's (lollu's. (Icsiriplioii of. 288-L'S!t 


l)ookisii, li!) 

ciioiic ol. 85 

coiurclf. 2.S 
dc'liiiitc. 2:? 
claboralc. 29 
legal, 2'} 
misspelled. ;?,'> 
scalterl)iaiii, 27 
selection of, 21 
specific. 2.'5 
leclinical. 2(i 
trite. 27 
type of, 2'5 
use of, 21 

Free Library of Philadelphia 

351.74 G146b 

Gammage, Allen Z. 

Basic police report writing. 

3 2222 0331 

1 4598 



is a Monograph in 

Edited by 


Professor of Police Administration 

Washington State University 

PuUnnan, Washington 


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