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Investigative and Operational Report Writing

NCJ Number
L E Holtz
Date Published
33 pages
The hallmark of competent law enforcement officers is the ability to record their observations and actions in a clear, concise, and understandable manner.
Guidelines are presented in the form of 10 commandments of effective reporting. Whenever officers become involved in an incident requiring them to take any official action that affects the life, liberty, or property of another person, they should properly document their actions and observations. Officers must always maintain the proper perspective, think before they write, take field notes, and briefly outline facts and circumstances on which the report is based before the formal report is written. Additionally, officers must record all relevant facts and strive for accuracy, remain objective, aim for clarity and readability, read the report before submitting it, and preview and review. An operations report outline and checklist for use by police departments is included.


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