|The stupid dirt bag got all up in my face when I told him he was under arrest. I grabbed
the ass hole and he bowed up on me. He started acting like a maniac. So, I took his
feet out from under him and slam dunked his ass to the pavement. When I wrenched his
arms around and cuffed him; he quit kicking and lay as still as a road kill opossum.
This is a very colorful description of an arrest; one you may have heard in the coffee
locker after work or one you yourself have told on occasion. It makes for good
entertainment and evokes the imagination when it's heard. I think we can all agree, that
this rendition of an arrest, does not go on a police report. It is vague, ambiguous and
wide open for interpretation.
The same event could be described in an official, collegiate version as follows:
The reporting officer proceeded to effectuate an arrest to incarcerate the listed
perpetrator. The listed perpetrator became verbally abusive towards this officer,
verbally enunciating negative expletives, denouncing the countenance of this officer's
chosen profession. As the arresting officer proceeded to physically manipulate the
perpetrator into a position conducive for the application of the arresting officer's issued,
smith and wesson handcuffs, the perpetrator became physically resistive to the arresting
officers cuffing procedure. The arresting officer clearly and loudly articulated directions
for the uncooperative perpetrator to comply . The arresting officer advised the
perpetrator of the negative consequences that will be brought about by resistance on
the part of the perpetrator. The arresting officer was forced to resort to a take down
maneuver, effectuated against the perpetrator. The perpetrator was subsequently
placed in a horizontal position and subjected to a cuffing procedure, to restrain him, for
the purpose of arrest and incarceration.
Now this official version of an arrest is at least 3 times longer than the coffee locker
version. It is vague, ambiguous and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It is also
hard to understand.
What happened? Often times we are trying to impress people with our "creative" writing
skill, instead of telling them what happened. In the process, we fail to actually say what
happened. When you write a report, there should be no room for interpretation. The
reader of your report should have a crystal clear picture in their mind, of what happened,
when they finish reading your report. If the reader has questions about what happened,
you have failed to effectively communicate.
Here is a clear version of the same report.
I told Smith he was under arrest. He said "Screw you pig! You ain't taken me no place!"
I used my left hand to grab his left elbow and my right hand to grab his right wrist. Smith
flexed his body and pulled away from me. I yelled "don't resist." and "get down." several
times. Smith did not comply and continued to try and pull away. I struck Smith on the
common peroneal of his right leg with my right knee. I used my left leg to sweep his
feet. I guided Smith to the ground, as I repeatedly yelled " get down, don't resist." When
he was on the ground, I pulled Smith over on his stomach and handcuffed his arms
behind his back. Smith was not injured.
This version is ½ the length of the "official, collegiate" version and about twice as long as
the coffee locker version. It is clear, unambiguous and leaves little room for
misinterpretation. When a person finishes reading it, there should not be any questions
about what happened.
What do we want in a use of force report and how do we make it clear? This is the
information that is needed in the report:
|COFFEE, COLLEGIATE OR CLEAR,
WHICH IS BEST?
|by John Bowden