Chronological Writing in Police Reports Activity, law homework help

Question Description

1. Read Chronological Writing in Police Reports, located on p. 9 of the Report Writing Activities for the CJ Student document.

2. Complete the Chronological Writing in Police Reports Activity.

3. Format the assignment in a Microsoft® Word document in accordance with APA guidelines.

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            Report  Writing  Activities  for     the  Criminal  Justice  Student     A  Supplement  to  Curriculum  Technology’s     CJ  Communications  in  the  USA         Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.     Table  of  Contents     Objective  vs.  Subjective  Writing             3   Using  Active  Voice  in  Police  Reports           6   Chronological  Writing  in  Police  Reports         9   First  Person  Narrative  and  Other  Pronoun  Issues       13                   Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.   2       Objective  Writing  vs.  Subjective  Writing     Key  Activity  Objectives   • • • Discern  the  key  differences  between  objective  and  subjective  writing   Understand  when  subjective  language  is  acceptable   Provide  an  objective  report  for  a  diverse  audience     Introduction   Report  writing  must  “tell  a  story”  that  complies  with  certain  requirements  that  are  not   found  in  creative  writing.  One  of  the  most  important  conditions  is  that  the  reporting  officer   must  be  “objective,”  rather  than  “subjective,”  in  his  reports.     Subjective  writing  is  characterized  by  the  author  expressing  opinions,  feelings  and,  even  in   some  cases,  judgments.  In  objective  writing,  the  author  relates  facts  without  imposing  his   own  feelings  or  opinions  into  the  narrative.  When  writing  an  official  report,  the  author   needs  to  be  objective,  without  expressing  any  personal  or  professional  opinions.    Subjective   writing  has  no  basis  in  report  writing,  be  it  a  news  article  or  a  police  report,  because  the   audience  expects  an  unbiased  account  of  events.    Emotions  affect  our  ability  to  think  and   make  conclusions  rationally.  We  may  hold  firmly  to  how  people  should  be  treated  when   they  do  something  wrong,  but  when  it  directly  affects  us,  our  opinion  of  how  serious  the   situation  is,  or  how  best  to  handle  the  situation  is  markedly  different.    Therefore,  law   enforcement  reports  in  particular  must  communicate  only  the  facts.   Sometimes  it  may  be  appropriate  to  be  subjective  and  objective  in  a  piece  of  non-­‐fiction   writing.  If  the  author  is  writing  an  editorial  piece  about  the  effects  of  war,  he  may   communicate  objective  information  by  providing  statistical  information  concerning  the   cost  of  war  in  terms  of  money  and  lives.  To  make  or  emphasize  a  point,  the  editorial  author   may  be  subjective  in  adding  how  war  had  a  devastating  emotional  effect  on  him  or   someone  he  knows.    However,  an  editorial  piece  is,  by  design,  based  on  one  person’s   opinion  and/or  experience,  and  is  not  held  to  the  same  factual  standards  of  a  news  or   police  report.   For  the  purposes  of  report  writing,  individuals  in  the  criminal  justice  field  are  expected  to   provide  facts  while  withholding  emotion.    This  allows  the  reporting  officer  to  effectively   provide  others  with  the  facts  so  that  they  can  take  the  appropriate  action.     Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.   3     Example:   A  retired  detective  is  accused  of  sexual  assault.  The  investigating  officer  taking  the   initial  report  “filtered”  out  some  information  or  down  played  the  significance  of   information  provided.  The  actions  of  others,  i.e.,  supervisors,  district  attorneys,  and   judges  rely  on  the  information  provided  to  them  in  reports  to  help  determine  that   the  most  appropriate  action  is  taken.  If  the  initial  information  is  faulty,  the  decisions   based  upon  that  information  is  faulty,  and  justice  is  not  served.     Sometimes  an  author  may  not  realize  that  they  are  being  subjective  in  their  reports.  This   usually  happens  with  the  author  makes  conclusions  based  upon  observed  behavior  or   information  provided.         Example:   During  the  interview,  Ms.  Wilson  did  not  maintain  eye  contact  and  was  constantly   moving  around  in  her  chair.  When  asked  if  she  could  describe  the  person  she  saw   take  the  money  from  the  cash  register,  Ms.  Wilson  hesitated,  took  a  couple  of   seconds  to  respond,  and  said  she  doesn’t  think  she  can  identify  the  person.  When   asked  if  she  had  seen  the  person  before,  Ms.  Wilson  looked  away  from  me  and  in  a   soft  voice  said,  “No.”       It  was  very  obvious  that  Ms.  Wilson  did  not  want  to  be  talking  to  me  about  the  crime   and  was  very  uncomfortable.  When  Ms.  Wilson  was  asked  to  describe  the  person   she  saw  take  the  money  from  the  cash  register,  Ms.  Wilson  was  evasive  and  lied  to   me  when  she  said  she  could  not  identify  the  suspect.  It  was  also  obvious  that  Ms.   Wilson  knew  the  suspect  because  of  her  reaction  when  I  asked  her  if  she  had  seen   the  person  before.     When  we  examine  the  example,  the  author  is  being  objective  in  the  first  part  of  the  report.   He  is  reporting  facts  about  the  physical  actions  and  the  subject’s  responses.  But  in  the   second  paragraph,  the  author  becomes  subjective  by  making  conclusions  as  to  what  those   physical  actions  and  responses  mean.  In  such  situations,  the  author  should  describe  the   facts  relating  to  the  subject’s  actions  and  verbal  responses,  and  allow  the  reader  to   conclude  what  those  facts  mean.     There  are  a  couple  of  key  concepts  to  keep  in  mind  when  trying  to  ensure  that  the  report  is   objective.   • Avoid  making  conclusions  or  inferences   • Do  not  address  emotions,  thoughts,  or  feelings.  Stay  with  the  facts.     Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.   4   • Don’t  try  to  convince  the  reader  of  anything.  Let  the  reader  make  conclusions   based  upon  the  facts  in  the  report.     Report  writing  is  not  the  place  to  be  creative  or  make  an  emotional  plea.  Only  by  being   objective  can  we  have  the  best  chance  of  rational,  fair  decisions  being  made.     Sample  of  an  Objective  Report:   I  bought  a  puppy  yesterday.  He  is  a  purebred  American  Eskimo.  He  is  only  seven   weeks  old  and  has  very  white  fluffy  hair.  When  we  first  brought  him  home,  he  spent   the  first  couple  of  hours  lying  in  one  of  the  corners  of  the  kitchen.  After  that,  he   jumped  on  the  couch  and  lied  next  to  my  wife  and  fell  asleep.     Sample  of  a  Subjective  Report:   I  bought  a  puppy  yesterday.  When  we  went  to  look  at  the  litter,  the  one  I  picked  out   had  a  fantastic  personality.  He  ran  up  to  me  and  acted  as  if  we  were  long  lost  friends.   When  I  got  him  home,  he  was  a  little  afraid  and  spent  the  first  couple  of  hours   shivering  in  one  of  the  corners  of  the  kitchen.  It  was  obvious  that  he  was  afraid  and   uncertain  of  his  new  surroundings.  I  had  no  doubt  that  he  would  become   comfortable  in  a  short  period  of  time.  Sure  enough,  a  couple  of  hours  later  he   jumped  up  on  the  couch  and  lied  next  to  my  wife.  He  was  so  content  he  fell  asleep  on   her  lap.    He  is  going  to  be  a  fantastic  dog.     Activity   Go  to  “YouTube”  and  type  in  “Job  Interviews.”  Click  on  the  link  for  “Two  Sample   Interviews.”    Review  one  of  the  interviews  and  write  two  summaries  of  the   interview  you  watched.  One  report  should  be  objective  and  the  other  should  be   subjective.  Remember,  in  the  subjective  report,  you  are  free  to  use  emotions,   conclusions,  and  opinions,  while  the  objective  report  contains  facts.     In  class,  be  prepared  to  discuss  which  of  the  two  styles  was  easier  to  write  and  what   made  the  other  style  harder.  Present  what  you  did  in  the  objective  report  to  lead  the   reader  to  a  specific  conclusion  or  if  you  simply  reported  the  facts.     Discussion  Questions   1. What  are  some  consequences  that  may  result  from  a  subjective  report?   2. What  are  some  situations,  if  any,  in  which  the  author  can  make  conclusions  in  an   objective  report?  (Example:  Expert  witness)    How  is  this  different  from  being   subjective?     Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.   5   3. Are  there  any  situations  in  which  a  subjective  report  is  appropriate  to  be  used  in  an   investigation,  administrative  case,  private  investigation’s  report,  or  a  probation   report?   Using  Active  Voice  in  Police  Reports       Key  Lesson  Objectives:       • • • Understand  the  importance  of  clear,  concise  writing     Develop  basic  report  writing  skills     Demonstrate  the  ability  to  write  incident  reports  using  active  voice   Introduction   Police  officers  and  security  personnel  write  reports  for  many  types  of  events,  from  non-­‐ emergencies  to  violent  crimes  such  as  homicides.    Whenever  an  officer  is  dispatched  to  a   scene,  a  clear,  concise,  accurate  incident  report  must  be  completed  and  filed,  because  the   report  may  be  used  as  evidence  in  the  future.    If  used  as  evidence,  lawyers,  judges  and   juries  will  review  the  officer’s  writing  as  part  of  a  case.    Therefore,  the  report  must  be   immediately  accessible  and  easy  for  civilians  to  understand.     Many  CJ  students  are  uncomfortable  with  writing;  after  all,  they  are  looking  for  a  career  in   criminal  justice  or  security,  not  journalism  or  publishing.    Frequently,  these  students  write   long,  expressive  sentences  with  a  high  word  count  because  they  think  it  makes  them  look   “smarter.”    This  is  usually  not  the  case;  in  fact,  longer  sentences  that  mix  verb  tenses  and   use  unnecessary  vocabulary  are  simply  harder  to  follow  and  make  the  writer’s  point  vague   and  awkward.    This  is  especially  true  in  police  reports.        No  matter  what  type  of  incident  is   reported,  whether  criminal  or  civil,  it  is  essential  that  report  writers  use  active  voice.      The   use  of  active  voice  helps  to  make  a  report  clear  and  concise,  which  is  beneficial  in  the  long   run.       Reports  that  use  proper,  active  verb  tenses  and  that  clearly  describe  subjects  and  actions   lead  to  less  confusion  during  the  investigations  process  and  ultimately  at  trial.    Use  of   active  verbs  is  called  using  “active  voice.”  Once  you  get  into  the  habit  of  using  active  voice   in  your  writing,  it  will  become  second  nature  to  use  it  in  your  reports.   As  writers,  when  we  use  active  voice,  we  make  the  subject  (in  the  case  of  police  reports,  a   person)  the  main  actor  in  the  situation.    This  means  we  make  the  subject  the  focus  of  the   sentence.      In  short,  active  voice  tells  you  “who”  did  “what.”      In  a  police  report,  this  subject   (“who”)  may  be  the  officer,  suspect,  victim  or  witness.  The  verb  (“what”)  is  often,  but  not   always,  in  the  present  tense,  and  indicates  some  form  of  action  or  movement.  For  instance,   the  following  sentences  use  active  voice.    The  subject  is  underlined,  and  the  action  is   italicized.     Copyright  2011  Curriculum  Technology,  LLC.    All  Rights  Reserved.   6     • • • • “The  witness  saw  the  accident.”   “The  victim  answered  all  our  questions.”   “Mr.  Jones  drove  the  car  that  night.”   “I  spoke  with  the  witnesses  and  took  their  contact  information.”   Passive  voice  can  make  a  sentence  longer,  but  that  does  not  necessarily  make  the  sentence   better.    In  fact,  passive  voice  makes  a  sentence  weaker,  because  the  subject  is  acted  upon,   putting  more  importance  on  the  act  than  the  person.    In  fact,  in  some  cases,  the  subject  of   the  sentence  is  not  even  revealed,  as  in  “Two  kids  were  seen  spray  painting  the  wall  of  the   city  library.”       An  easy  way  to  recognize  use  of  passive  voice  is  to  look  at  the  content  of  the  sentence  itself.     Instead  of  using  verbs  that  denote  some  sort  of  action,  passive  voice  usually  use  some  form   of  “to  be,”  such  as  “are,”  “is”  “was”  or  “were.”    Compare  the  following  statements,  as  written   in  passive  voice,  to  the  ones  written  above.    Again,  the  subject  is  underlined,  and  the  action   is  italicized.   • • • •   “It  was  stated  by  the  witness  that  she  saw  the  accident.”   “Questions  were  answered  by  the  conscious  victim.”   “The  car  was  driven  by  Mr.  Jones  that  night.”   “The  witnesses  were  spoken  to  and  their  contact  information  was  taken  by   me.”   Sometimes  the  passive  voice  is  unavoidable;  for  instance,  you  may  take  a  quote  from  a   witness  who  is  speaking  in  passive  voice,  and  you  must  directly  relate  what  she  said   without  changing  her  words.      However,  use  the  active  voice  whenever  it  is  within  your   control. …
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