How Would Poor Writing Skills Affect a Police Officer?

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Television and movies have long depicted police work as consisting largely of exciting vehicle pursuits, dangerous shootouts and chasing down criminals on foot. The truth, however, is far less exciting, though it is no less important. The vast majority of the day to day job of police officers involves responding to various calls for service, and generating reports of the incidents they investigate. In order to be an effective public servant, writing skills are necessary..

1 Types Of Reports

Every day, a police officer is likely to produce multiple reports. There are different types of reports, depending on the type of incident. Police officers routinely write crash reports, incident reports, arrest reports, and field interview and intelligence reports. All of these reports will be used by other units within the police force, or by private citizens. Well-written reports are part of the service expected of a community's police officers.

2 First Impressions

Reports are often a judge's first impression of a police officer.

These reports document various incidents that occurred, and are seen and reviewed by many different people, such as police supervisors, prosecution and defense attorneys, insurance companies, and the general public. A police officer's report is a reflection of himself. Often, a police report is the first and only impression a citizen or a lawyer will get of an officer. Producing an error-free police report will add credibility to a police officer's work product and will be viewed as an indication of her investigative ability.

3 Problems with Errors

A poorly-written report raises questions about a police officer's work. If a police report is full of misspelled words and typographical errors, the officer will appear careless, and questions will may be raised about the level of care taken in conducting investigations. If there are factual errors, the police officer's credibility may be called in to question.

4 Importance of Organization

If a police report is poorly organized, it may fail to properly communicate important facts about a particular case, or critical details may be lost in the confusion. Since attorneys and judges often make important decisions based solely on a police officer's report, organization is vital to ensure they have a complete picture of an arrest or incident so they can make an educated determination on how to proceed.

5 Writing and Police Work

The ability to produce effective written communications is vital for today's police officer. The reports generated by police are used to prosecute people accused of crimes and relay intelligence to other components of the police force and its partners on the state and federal level. Police reports are used by private citizens and insurance companies to settle civil disputes and to obtain compensation for damages from incidents such as vehicle crashes. Nearly every aspect of the job of police officer requires the ability to write coherently and effectively. It is important for every police officer to continue to improve his written communication skills to be a more effective public servant.

Joel Garrison is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Science in political science from Florida State University. He has served as an editor for the Florida House of Representatives and worked in crash reconstruction. Garrison teaches report writing, communications, physical fitness and health and nutrition to police recruits. He is also a firearms, defensive tactics, first-responder and CPR instructor.