Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Can I have a do-over?

Okay, so #5 of my meme thing below wasn’t much of an odd or strange fact, I know. (Except for the fact that, for 2 years, I had no car, and went to school and work by bike. Hard to do in Texas.)

So how about this? In some strange, weird way, I like some of the paperwork part of my job.

I like to put together superb reports that are guaranteed to usher some criminals to jail, and from there on to prison.

It’s a silly thing, but I’m proud of my reports, and I’m highly proud of my supplements. My supplements are (I like to think) informative, pertinent, and even a little bit entertaining. A good report narrative is simply a good story. If you give the punch line too early, then your reader has nothing to look forward to, and loses interest. So, while I could unload the best part of the story in the first paragraph of my 3 page supplement, I hold off until the last few paragraphs.

Such is the manner of writing that keeps intake prosecutors interested, and makes cases actually progress to the next level, instead of getting reduced or dropped before they can even be considered. “File better cases,” one might say. Well, I’ve seen some mighty good ones get dropped for no better reason than that the prosecutor really didn’t ever read the case all the way through. So my goal now is not only to file good solid cases, but to make ‘em entertaining, as well.

The demonstrated ability to put together a good narrative --complete with headings, titles, subheadings, and pictures-- is a mighty sharp double-edged sword, though. On the one hand it makes you look pretty damned good and increases your perceived worth with other officers. On the other, it makes you look like a guy who really needs to carry all the paperwork, all the time. This especially of note when dealing with other agencies.

This failure to fear paperwork may be one of the reasons that I don’t much mind DWI arrests, which most cops dread. They’re insanely paperwork-intensive compared with the typical level of the charge. While it’s been said that the average DWI arrest takes up about four hours of an officer's time, I’ve found that they typically take a full day, when you add in the extras, like transcribing tapes, appearing in administrative hearings for license suspension, etc. Court (which is more common with DWI) takes even more time.

The other day, I helped out a local agency with an arrest of some guys driving a stolen vehicle. I found myself doing some interviews, and some follow up. The highlight of my evening was when I finally tracked down the name of the guy that they got the car from, and when I figured out that one of the guys wasn’t who he claimed to be (earning him a new charge before he could bond out.). Then I sat down and wrote a nice supplement on it. My buddies found it odd that I enjoyed it as much as I did. But when I faxed that supplement over, I felt a sense of accomplishment that was strangely similar to the sense of satisfaction that I get when I finally snap that cuffs on a guy whom I've been looking for.

Different strokes, I guess, eh?


At Tuesday, January 23, 2007 11:27:00 PM, Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

You and I are of a kind. It's all about painting accurate pictures. On the rare occasions when I must call for medical orders, I am very rarely denied, even by the doctors who routinely deny orders to everyone else - because I paint accurate pictures.

And honestly, there are plenty of instances where I'm supposed to call for orders and I just do it anyway - because the Docs and i have that kind of trust level.

I use law enforcement reports as examples to my students of how to document, because virtually everything you do WILL end up in court. Cops have a huge edge in know-how over EMTs when it comes to legally defensible documentation.

My basic instruction to my medics has always been, "write it so that it can be easily understood by 12 people who were too ignorant to know how to get out of jury duty."

At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1:15:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Yes, we are of a kind, AD. Using our verbal skills will get our job done better, on many occasions, than our practical skills. Best, of course, is to be well-rounded, and know the practical and the textbook side of it, while being able to articulate our actions and what we observed well to the professionals that we turn our cases over to.

There's a quagmire that you can fall into, though. SOME cops (whose name shall not be mentioned here) have found that the ability to articulate and the knowledge of the law have gotten their butts put into offices with poguey little swivel chairs. :)

"He's not just a cop... He's a SuperCop."
--Eddie Murphey as Axle Foley, Beverly Hills Cop

At Friday, February 09, 2007 1:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may enjoy your paperwork and take pride in your work, but as someone who has worked in both sorts of offices I can guarantee that the prosecutors and judges love you paperwork and take joy in your pride.


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