Police Report Types
Let's look at the various components that make up a police report. Remember that these may vary by agency or be labeled as different categories, but the information collected will be the same.
Most reports will begin by describing the incident type. This will separate out property crimes from personal crimes or vehicular accidents. The incident will be labeled by the charges associated with the offense: for example, burglary, theft, assault, or domestic violence. The degree, such as felony or misdemeanor, may be designated here as well. A case number is often assigned in this area so that the report may be tracked and searched.
Police Report Categories
Along with the incident type, the location and time is established. This will include the physical address of the situation and the time that the incident occurred. Along with the incident time, the officer will note when they were dispatched and arrived or what time they took specific actions. In some cases, such as a car wreck, the weather may also be noted.
If we think back to arriving home and finding out that someone has broken in to your home, to complete the incident section of the police report, the officer may ask what items were taken or where you believe the suspect entered your home. To establish a time, they will ask about your schedule that day - when did you leave and what time did you get home. They will also note your address and the time that they were dispatched on the case.
After establishing the incident type and location, the next step is to gather information on the persons involved. This will include officers and their badge numbers, as well as the victims and any witnesses. If a suspect is known, their information may be included as well. Identifying information such as birth dates, physical descriptions, or the relationship to the others involved will be recorded.
The biggest part of the report is the narrative, where the officer describes the series of events that took place and the details from their perspective and will read like a story. The narrative begins by stating the time and location of the incident and will begin to tell the story, starting from the time the officer was dispatched through their arrival and interaction with those involved. It will detail the names of the parties involved and describe the scene.
The narrative will also outline the actions of the officer and any conclusions they were able to draw from their investigation. If an arrest was made, the compliance of the suspect will be described and it will state where they were booked into custody. If other agencies were involved, their information may also be included. Evidence collected will be described and documented. An officer may choose to include a drawing as well, to further illustrate the scene.
Police Report Examples
At 3:45 p.m. on April 11th, you were dispatched to 555 High Street regarding a theft. John Doe (DOB 7-7-1988) reported that he arrived home to find his front door open. He went into the home and found missing property. At this time he called the police.
Upon arriving, you found the front door had muddy footprints on it and it had been kicked in. John Doe stated that he left his home at 7:55 a.m. and returned at 3:30 p.m. and when he left, all of the doors and windows were locked. You searched the house and no suspects were found.
The list of stolen property includes:
- Xbox One X (Serial Number X358437)
- Small gold bracelet
- Assorted Xbox One games
- Canon D40 camera
- $50 cash
You conducted a survey of the home, but found no further evidence or points of entry. You photographed the boot print on the door (photo 745) and attached it to this report.
You took a sworn statement from John Doe and provided him with the case number. You then entered the Xbox One X serial number into the pawn shop database, and there were no hits.
Alright, let's take a moment to review what we've learned. The focus of this lesson was on police reports, which we learned are documents that detail all of the facts, circumstances, and timeline of events surrounding incidents reported to the police. Because a police report can be used by the police, victims, and the court system, it's important that it is written accurately and with as much detail as possible. Describing the incident type, which separates out property crimes from personal crimes or vehicular accents, and including the location and time, persons involved, and a narrative of the events from the officer's perspective allows someone who wasn't there to get a sense of what took place and what actions followed by the officer. This can be a vital tool for investigations, insurance claims, and court cases.