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JUST THE FACTS: INVESTIGATIVE REPORT WRITING, 4/e brings together all the simple rules and techniques students need to write effective investigative reports in law enforcement. Its user-friendly methodology works in any context, with any crime, regardless of the case’s complexity. Each chapter focuses on one major component of the report writing process, carefully building on what has already been learned. Coverage includes: investigation basics, note taking, narrative writing, describing persons and property, crime and arrest reports, writing interviews and search warrants, and more. This edition’s extensive updates include: more coverage of narrative writing rules, supported by more exercises; new coverage of digital evidence; and more search warrant examples — all presented in an attractive, accessible new design. Every chapter includes a clear overview, key terms, summary, brief review, practical exercises, and a ten-question quiz. This edition contains convenient blank report forms, practical exercises on condensing reports and choosing more effective language; and a fully-updated glossary.
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This workbook combines the basics of two disciplines—investigation and report writing, and bridges the gap between them in order to teach the basics involved in writing a police report. Fundamental guidelines for investigative reports are established through a set of rules that are easy to understand and apply in any type of report writing scenario. Chapter topics include note taking, describing persons and property, crime and arrest reports, search warrants, and issues in writing. For police officers who have difficulty turning their preliminary investigative efforts into quality reports, and anyone involved in law enforcement training seeking a tool to produce effective investigative report writing.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Since 1980 I have been an instructor in several areas of law enforcement training and security management, with an emphasis in the field of investigative report writing. This has included course preparation and presentation at many levels including basic and reserve academy courses, advanced officer and investigator courses, supervisor updates, and community college classes. I have had the opportunity to talk with thousands of law enforcement and security officers, field trainers, supervisors, and managers. Through this experience I have learned that a common concern is the need for an effective entry-level report writing training guide that would explain some of the basics of an investigation and how to write about them.
Just the Facts was written to help fill a need for a training tool that combines some of the basics of investigation with the basics of report writing for entry-level students and academy recruits. Before investigators can write about what they have done, they must know something about how to perform their craft. The existing literature covers the ends of this spectrum quite well. Libraries and bookstores are well-supplied with books and manuals on how to investigate something, as well as on how to write. Very few if any, however, try to combine the two disciplines and bridge the distance between them. The need for this type of work is evidenced by the number of young police officers who have difficulty turning their preliminary investigative efforts into quality reports. This book was not designed to teach someone how to write. It was designed to help teach someone—who knows how to write—how to write a police report. It assumes the student brings a working knowledge of the English language to the learning experience and, as such, makes no attempt at being a grammar book.
This workbook is an attempt to meet the needs of report writing students by establishing fundamental guidelines for investigative reports through a set of rules that are easy to understand and apply in any situation. By following these rules each major component of investigative report writing can be broken down to its simplest form and examined for weaknesses. These weak points can then be corrected with immediate improvements made.
Since 1985 I have taught police report writing at the community college level. As part of my preparation and course development I have reviewed most, if not all, of the available texts and journal articles dealing with this subject matter. The majority of these writings address the need to simplify and professionalize the style and content of reports through the teaching of grammar and spelling, however, none establish a method or set of rules to do so. Just the Facts puts forth a set of guidelines or rules to help students work through any type of report writing problem. It also presents scenarios in which the student can apply the learned behaviors in report writing situations. In this part of the learning process the students are able to test their knowledge in exercises ranging from fill-in-the-blank questions to writing reports based on role playing situations.
All too often young investigators are described as being poor report writers because their reports are short, difficult to understand, or lack detail. I suggest that if investigators correctly and accurately write what they discover during their investigations, they are good report writers. If the report is lacking substance, the problem is not one of report writing but one of investigative skill.
Fourteen years of practice with these rules of writing and exercises—with continual feedback from students, police officers who have attended the class and put these techniques into practice, and other report writing instructors—have convinced me that this system works.
The chapters are designed to identify key learning points followed by an explanation and example of each. Each chapter has a short review, a set of exercises to build on the chapter learnings, and a ten-question quiz. Questions are a mixture of true/false, short answer, and multiple choice. They are designed to build confidence and reinforce the material just covered. Each chapter is devoted to a major component of the report writing process and builds on the previous learnings.
The text is based on the premise that in order to write police reports, the student needs to know something about investigations. As such the text begins with a discussion of investigations to give the student a basic foundation from which to build writing expertise. Other chapters include note taking, rules of narrative writing, describing persons and property, crime reports, arrest reports, issues in writing, search warrants, and dictating reports.
Over the years the material in this text has been modified and field tested many times in academy settings and at the community college level with the hope that one day it would be right. Whether or not it meets the expectations of all the members of the criminal justice system remains to be seen, but the intent to do so is there. No workbook like this comes from a single source and I want to thank those who gave their time reviewing the manuscript and providing feedback on the text. This includes Sergeant Richard Butcher, Huntington Beach Police Department; Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, California Court of Appeals, 6th District; Mark Colin, Chevron Oil Spill Coordinator; Judge Sarah Jones-Fuller, Municipal Court, West Orange County Judicial District, retired; Captain Ed McErlain, Huntington Beach Police Department; Investigator Clay Searle, Los Angeles Police Department, retired; Everett Teglas, Chevron Corporate Security, Latin America; and in memoriam to Sergeant Bob Moran, Huntington Beach Police Department. I also want to thank Police Chief Tim Grimmond, El Segundo Police Department, and Captain John Rees, La Habra Police Department for their assistance in providing the report forms used as examples in the text. Last, but not least, I want to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of police officers and students who took the time to give me their thoughts and comments on how to improve the text. I tried.
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