Report Writing
Despite its drudgery, report writing is a core and mandatory function throughout the investiga-
tive process. Report writing—that is, the compilation, drafting, and authorship of various reports
and documents relating to an investigative caseserves as the formal record of investigative
steps and practices. Reports are crucial to historical accuracy and ensure an objective appraisal of
events and conditions surrounding the case at hand. Reports also promote professional best prac-
tices for the security industry. And yet the quality of report writing remains, as Tim Dees puts it, an
“ill at the top of the list.
A . e f f I c I e n c y I n T h e In v e s T I g A T I v e pr o c e s s
Reports and record keeping promote productivity and efciency in the typical security agency’s
operation. There is a direct relationship between the efciency of a security operation and the
quality of its records and record procedures. The simple task of performing security in health
care facilities only a few years ago is in sharp contrast to the exceedingly complex and difcult
problems and demands of todays facilities. In meeting these demands, the security operation
must function according to plans that provide for detailed records regarding each phase of its
operational responsibility.
The value of reports are twofold: rst, initial steps are memorialized;
second, subsequent investigative actions are not a rehash of the rst steps taken. As case investiga-
tions progress, it is difcult to remember it all, and report documents keep the investigator on an
efcient path.
At a minimum, reports are shared and collaborative documents that allow all interested parties
access to the plan of action chosen and the processes already completed. Bennett and Hess, longtime
experts in the investigative realm, properly hold that “[y]our reports, like your notes, are a permanent
record that communicates important information to many others. They are used, not simply led
Without reports, the case and its personnel are likely to falter or at least proceed in a less ef-
cient way. Police departments are increasingly reliant upon software programs to ensure efciency in
the draft and nal reports, and such software programs go a long way toward assuring efciency.
Web Exercise: Review and evaluate a popular report writing software program at http://www.
B. re p o r T s A n d Me M o r y
Both short-term and long-term memory are subject to a variety of forces that can affect clarity and
recall. Note taking at the scene and creation of the report as soon as possible after an event reduces
the risk of inaccuracy. Case documentation, fully accepting the fallibility of human memory, pro-
vides a permanent locale for later reference. The need to retrieve information contained in a report
may occur within hours or days after it is written or perhaps even years later. A quick and effective

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