The Importance of Report Writing in Law Enforcement

Christina MacDougall

One of the most valuable skills a law enforcement officer can possess is the ability to write reports that accurately relay information to the reader. With legal requirements regularly changing, it is imperative that officers of every level receive ongoing training and guidance with report writing. Report writing is a perishable skill that ultimately affects a case’s outcome. Learning to write reports goes beyond what is taught in the basic academy and can make or break a successful law enforcement career.

Most law enforcement officers do not consider report writing the most exciting or interesting subject to study. Unfortunately, most individuals in the law enforcement community find the topic of report writing a bother and give it minimal effort. Whether writing a report for a high-profile investigation, a basic crime, a traffic collision, or an in-house discipline, the main focus must be accuracy and following specific report criteria.

Computer keyboard

Upcoming Report Writing Classes by 21 CLETS, LLC

The law enforcement community generally spends minimal time discussing report writing and nearly zero-time training once they leave the academy. While the basic law enforcement academy teaches report writing skills, new graduate officers need to fully understand how much of their career will be spent writing reports. They need to realize that paperwork will take up ninety-nine percent of their time, and the remaining one percent accounts for their other duties.

21 CLETS, LLC offers an 8-hour course that reviews every step of the report writing process to ensure students understand the importance of time management, proper spelling and grammar, interview techniques, and situational awareness. The course content covers the different reports law enforcement personnel might write. Students learn to use proven tools, techniques, and concepts for report writing, allowing readers to recreate an event as they read. They know how to develop their skills to write complete, cohesive, and trial-ready reports. Students learn how the reports they write might be used and who has access to them. They review the value of good note-taking and how to check their reports for completeness. They also explore particular areas of concern when writing reports, including evidence, the chain of custody, and storage. The course concludes with a section on mandatory information that must be included when writing reports, such as probable cause, use of force, pursuits, and medical aid.


  • Christina MacDougall

    Formally educated in the sciences, and working as an industrial engineer, Christina switched her career focus and accepted a position working for the Foster City Police Department. While at the Foster City Police Department, Christina was a trainer in first aid, EVOC, tactical communications and Alzheimer’s awareness, all of which are POST mandated classes. She also obtained her POST Academy Instructor Certificate (AICC).