Writing a Professional report
One of the biggest complaints from clients in the protection industry, (‘guard’) is the fact that the officers can’t write reports. I should say, being more specific, reports that are legible and understandable!
You may think that in this day and age that everyone who is working such a communication and customer service oriented field would know how to write. But, sadly, many don’t. Some officers don’t even know how to spell, even if they’ve went to and gaduated high skool!
Do I know all the answers to writing good reports for clients and ones that will stand up in court? Not by a long shot. But I can help keep you and your company outa trouble.
Don’t write using verbose or flowery language, this isn’t a college level language class. Write your report like you’re telling a friend what happened. Be conversational.
- Spell out any abbreviations the first time you write them and then put the abbreviation right behind it- then just the abbreviation throughout
Put the time you are writing the report, not the time the incident occurred.
- Always use military time, this helps to avoid confusion (a little secret for you military time starts at 0001)
- Keep the report in chronological order as the officer knows it. In other times, write the report with the details as the officer learns them. If a fight occurs at 0400 but the officer doesn’t realize it until 0600, then he starts the report at 0600! Never write the report as if you’re omnipotent.
- Use the word ‘approximately or approx.’ when writing the time. Not everyone’s watch keeps the same time. By using the term approximately you keep both the officer and the report from being questioned
It should always be written in the 3rd person. Again, this will help alleviate any confusion as to who did what, when. If you have multiple officers involved, it will definitely help keep the story line straight.
- Write your report as per current business guidelines. That could mean indenting or not. It used to be, back when I started, you indented. Nowadays, business writing doesn’t indent.
- Proper grammar will also help you from being questioned about your intelligence. Grammar (6th grade level) as well as spelling, punctuation, and the like should be monitored. Always have the officer have a dictionary
Beginning and End of
- If allowed, then they also should draw an X through the empty part of the report, to prevent someone else from writing and adding to it. If not an X, then maybe a line that says ‘end of report’.
- Fill out the report form completely. Leave no spaces unfilled. If you have empty spaces when you’re finished, then place something like N/A or unk. In them. Again, it makes it look formal and complete.
Every security company, their clients, and others, who employ proprietary officers, have a different way of writing their reports. I think it should be a standardized format for ease in courts and elsewhere, but…
These above guidelines are just that, guidelines. Everywhere an officer goes the format is bound to be a little different. And in the security field, how the client or security company wants their reports is the way you’ll write them.
Just take care and remember these tips and you should be able to write reports that stand up in court or an unemployment hearing.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.