Although the following statements refer to law enforcement reports, they apply equally to the importance of public safety, fire services, corrections and private security reports.
“Good or bad, the language, style and tone of our investigative reports tells the reader about the writer. The trial lawyer’s adage of ‘If you can’t try the facts of the case, try the officer who reported the facts’ has played out far too many times in far too many courtrooms. Juries and even District Attorneys equate sloppy police writing with sloppy thinking and careless investigative methods.” Gordon Sievert. “The Essence of Quality: Writing Successful Reports.” The Law Enforcement Trainer, Fourth Quarter 2004, p.35.
“Officers sometimes neglect their report writing, but it has very serious consequences if left unattended. What officers write in their report stays with them forever. The words on the paper cannot be changed, and an omission of critical details cannot later be added to a report without calling the report’s veracity into doubt.” Laura L. Scarry. “Report Writing.” Law Officer Magazine, February 2007, p.68.
“Your investigative report may be the one pivotal piece of documentation that makes a difference in the prosecution of a murderer or a serial rapist. You certainly don’t want it to be the weakest link in the investigation and provide a gap for an offender to get away with their crime” Kimberle Swobodzinski, “The Crime Scene Report,” Law Officer Magazine,. February 2007, p.48