FUNDAMENTALS OF WRITING
STATEMENTS AND REPORTS PART 1
Audits or reports are
your personal overview of the investigation in a nutshell. From initial
client contact to the trying of the case in Judicial Review. Reports
are the definition and organization of the case. Your report must trace
the entire network of events from initial entry into the case, under
what circumstances, Organization of an investigative path for solving
the case and prognostication about the outcome of an investigation.
It has been my
experience that the performance of an investigator is, to a large
degree, evaluated by his ability to report in writing the facts learned
during the course of investigation. Case after case has been won by the
quality of documents produced.
For example in
a larger departments where personal contact between Operations
administration and subordinates is infrequent. Regardless, a thorough
investigation followed by a neatly prepared and competed report attracts
considerable recognition. Prompt and carefully prepared reports are
essential to the investigator'’ total work performance. Your true worth
as an Agent can be determined by the content, inductive and deductive
based reasoning and completeness of your Audit. It is clear; a person
who lacks the skill to prepare an adequate report makes their
desirability for particular assignments where knowledge or information
is the product, regardless of their investigative ability.
can easily evaluate your work and progress and may prove the sole
information necessary to make sound administrative or supervisory
command. Careful reviews of reports prepared by field agents may lead
to the detection’s of circumstances and features that are common to a
number of cases under investigation. Armed with information such as
Modus Operandi, physical description of suspect, and witness statements
and your narrative may indicate that one individual may have committed
more than one offense. Your superior can better correlate and direct
the efforts of other Agents and their assignments. Powerful leads may
be recognized from your reports which may require follow up such as
particular responsibilities to other units or agencies, crime laboratory
or federal laboratory. These reports, which arose out of the course
of an investigation, keep co-workers and Operations informed of the work
reports are significant in that they tend to prevent duplication of
efforts when several officers are assigned to one case. Report
availability is valuable when another Agent relieves the original
officer. Reports are used to brief the relieving Agent, provide a
deeper insight into the case, and inform them of the work already
performed. Your investigative report provides the foundation upon which
the prosecution builds its case. The prosecuting attorney depends upon
the factual presentation of an investigation to determine whether there
was sufficient evidence to proceed on a specific charge. The
prosecuting attorney relies upon the report to inform him of the
evidence he will be able to present the names of witnesses, what the
probable defense will be and other details, which can be used to plan
investigation is fundamental to the preparation of a satisfactory
report. The report becomes the official memory of the department.
Carefully identified and filed for years to come when it may once again
be called upon to play an important role. Old investigative reports
consistent with an Agent looking for consistency between current crimes
is a seasoned veteran armamentarium. That task force is usually
developed prior to any cases, and when in need, they begin work at a
The accuracy of
the report must be a true presentation of all the facts whether they are
favorable or not tot the subject, suspect, witness and the types of
persons involved. Your narrative should be presented easily and clearly
for comprehension. An error free report is often difficult to obtain
regardless of whom the writer is. The unintentional mistakes affect the
correct interpretation of the case as a result from the inability to
distinguish between facts and hearsay, fact and opinion from using words
that do not clearly express the intent.
Hearsay vs. Fact.
evidence is implied “when an unverified statement of a third person
regarding another” is recorded. Thus witness through their senses from
the original source can make fact from personally leaned information.
If for example, a witness tells the Agent that the suspect has a
previous criminal background, this is hearsay. Only after this
information is checked out or Verified through departmental records and
other agencies will it become fact or fallacy.
instance when it is impractical to verify every statement a witness,
suspect or victim makes, these are considered hearsay and could be
qualified as alleged to be, believed to be, described as rather tan to
make a positive statement of fact.
are examples of statements, which are hearsay or fact. Hearsay. The
suspect is alleged t be married to the victim’s daughter. Fact. The
suspect is married to the victim’s daughter.
regarding the credibility of information must not be expressed. The
Agents responsibility is to report only the acts, not unsubstantiated
opinion regarding the honesty, judgment and reliability of a subject.
These statements can prejudice the reader and affect the accuracy of the
reports. Personal opinions or those of others are not fact. For
example and Opinion would be “Her record of five previous arrests for
theft indicates she has the characteristics of a sadistic criminal.
However, it could factually be stated “The record shows five previous
arrests for armed robbery in which each victim was pistol whipped.
Us as simple
and direct language and select your vocabulary to increase the accuracy
and clarity of your report. Avoid ambiguous words or phrases, which
force a reader to rely on his judgment to interpret a report. This is
how the potential for inaccuracy appears. For example early morning,
later hour, and a medium height with a large amount of money are terms,
which force the reader to guess what the writer is trying to say. One
test interns are encouraged to do in to after preparing a report and you
fear some statements or passages may lead to a false interpretation,
have another Agent read it. If the Agent obtains a meaning different
than what you intended, your report is inaccurate.
communicating time the use of military time eliminates potential sources
for error. 0300 is 3:00 A.M., WHILE 1500 HOURS ALWAYS REPRESENTS 3:00
PM. Frequent inaccuracies reported are telephone numbers, addresses,
e-mail are anything with numbers. Always double-check the spelling or
number sequence before writing them in your report. Careful of what and
how you write. Spelling errors, a misplaced comma or period can also
change the meaning of a statement or confuse the reader. Today,
editor’s such as myself are moving away from placing a period after all
initial of certification, degrees and so forth.
Review your own
reports. Distinguish that all the facts that were learned during the
investigation are relevant to the case. There are no partially stated
facts, which only cause an incorrect interpretation but may be as
misleading as a falsehood. Incomplete information can hamper the
conduct of the investigation if decision is based upon half-truths
mistaken to be fully stated facts. All events pertinent to the case are
reported consistently. Leave no room for the reviewer’s imagination to
reports can list all the undeveloped leads and explain the kind of
information you expect from each course. State any reasons for not
taking action (laboratory examination not completed). List the sources
that produce negative results. If your essential information is
lacking, state the efforts used to obtain it. Your final report must
include documentation as evidence of the work you performed. All
appended statements, co9nfessions, findings made by other agonies, such
as the medical examiners and laboratories.
pitfalls of repetition of information, superfluous descriptions, words
and details. For example relative to a persons identity, when a person
is first mentioned in the body of a report, they are clearly identified
by their full name (Miss, Mrs. Dr. Mr.) race, date of birth, address,
telephone number and occupation or type of doctor. Avoid slag,
profanity and stick to the facts. Never inject personal sarcasm, wit or
opinion in your reports. This principal of concise nature of objective
documentation is known as Brevity.
When and How are
From the onset
of the initial client contact to the end of the investigative case. All
reports are written for your benefit as well as
Operations or your client’s. As you will see gathering the facts,
placing all relevant data including your accuracy, brevity or clarity at
first will be learned by habit but later through the performance of
audits. I have performed well over 20,000 audits in my carear
prior to going on now to medical school. If for
example my audit were part of the Adams Vs CSLA case; one patient would
present this examiner with 3 audit reports to perform. Thus on a large
class action and bad faith case such as that, you may perform 300.
This expert will never forget when the trial lawyers asked me where to
begin, and your editor said, "at the beginning?" Then
defense expert attorneys wheeled in my works to be scrutinized by the
trial lawyers, it was legal book-like bound and about seven feet
long. I turned to page one, sat silently
but did catch the trial lawyers "look of dumbfounded experts"
(I was advised that they were some of the
highest paid trial lawyers in California at time! By the way the
defense of Auto Club was successful beyond their expectations.).
the “Black Box” case resulting in the only National Ban on anything
within the United States, I had to perform well over 4,000 individual
audits with only a few individuals requiring my
rechecking my initial audit
with actually being sent around the nation to unite
state agencies with federal agencies and alert them to what the federal
experts with facts were now trying to teach, some testimony
Even if your
initial report to Operations details the steps of your investigation,
you’ll already have a list of topics for which reports will be written.
The Basic Principles of Good Report Writing as presented by the One
State Agencies Department follow. I have chosen theirs to be the model
for the nation. You will learn from one Department with a large
territory to cover, the 6th largest economy in the World, and
how their State Law Enforcement procedures were originated.
By Scott Neff DC DABCO
MSOM MPS-BT CDE IME ABDA DABFE FFABS FACFE FFAAJTS Badge #473 CFE
"Justice is Truth in Action" Benjamin