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If you don't write it, it didn't happen.

Put yourself in this scenario.  You're a young man
on a date with your girlfriend.  You had a nice
dinner; after which, you go to a nightclub where
both you and your date have a few drinks.  You're
driving, so you keep your consumption of alcohol to
a minimum.  For the purpose of this scenario, we'll
stipulate that your blood alcohol content is well
below the legal level for impairment.  As for your
girlfriend, she had a few more than you, and, while
she's not intoxicated, it's apparent that she's
feeling the effects of the alcohol.

You and your date leave the club and walk to your
car which is in a parking lot a couple of blocks from
the club.  You and your date are talking and
laughing, so you don't notice that two men are
following you onto the parking lot.
Suddenly, you're grabbed from behind and slammed
against a parked car.  You hear your girlfriend
scream as you recover your footing and turn to face
what turns out to be two robbers.  The suspect
who initially pushed you puts his hand against your
chest and warns you to cooperate or see your
girlfriend "get a cap in her head."  You quickly focus
on the second suspect who's standing behind your
girlfriend.  He has his left arm around her neck as
he's pressing the barrel of a handgun in his right
hand against the side of her head.  
The incident title of your report is "Unfounded
Robbery."  The first sentence of the report states,
"No robbery occurred at (address)."  This statement
is in fact true since the original address given to the
officer was the address of the nightclub where he
responded to meet you.  The best parts come in
the narrative where the officer describes the
"complainant" – that's you – as being "intoxicated"
and your statements as being "inconsistent."  The
officer ends the report by advising you to "re-
contact police when the effects of alcohol have worn
off."  Of course, there's no mention of him allowing
you to drive home in your [intoxicated] condition.

As far as the police department is concerned, the
crimes committed against you and your girlfriend
were never committed.  There exists no possibility
of a detective contacting you in the future to
identify a suspect or suspects since no armed
robbery report exists for a detective to read, and
the crimes committed will never become part of any
system to track crime trends or provide any
investigative assistance relative to similar crimes.

In a police department where real quality control
features exist to maintain a high level of integrity in
its reporting system, a report like that in the
scenario could come into question somewhere along
the chain.  However, in a police department where
police officers play fast and loose with facts and
circumstances in reporting crime, it's likely that the
leadership of that department hasn't yet realized
the absolute importance of accurately reporting
crime.

As far as police officers go, you're going to be
working with a multitude of personalities just as you
would in any other vocation.  While most police
officers will have integrity and a willingness to learn
and do things as they should be done, some
won't.  You'd expect those who are incompetent or
just plain lazy to work harder avoiding work;
however, when it comes to downgrading crime,
even the most competent and hard working police
officers are susceptible to the practice of
downgrading.  

Every police department will insist that accurate
crime reporting is a top priority.  When a
department is embarrassed by an incident that
exposes a flawed crime reporting system, the
department's leadership will always insist that the
system is sound and that the incident resulted from
an [isolated] procedural breakdown by an individual
police officer and first line supervision.  It's a pretty
safe excuse since those are the two primary
elements which must fail to produce the
breakdown.  The real question that should be asked
is how many undetected procedural breakdowns
occur with regularity?  

Despite what others may do, it will always be your
individual responsibility to accurately report crime.  
As you prepare for your career as a police officer
please keep this in mind.  Every type of report you
write will be important, but reports of crime take on
even added importance.  The phrase, "If you don't
write it, it didn't happen," isn't just a clever
comment; it's the absolute truth.
You quickly comply with the first suspect's demand
to hand over your money.  After the suspect has
your wallet, cash, and cell phone, both suspects run
from the lot and out of sight.

At this point, bear this mind.  Two Part One crimes
under UCR have just been committed.  You're the
victim of an armed robbery since a gun was the
weapon displayed, and property was taken from
you.  You're girlfriend is the victim of an Aggravated
Assault since a gun was held to her head; however,
no property was taken from her, and no demand
for property was made to her.

Okay... you head back to the club where you call
police.  Two police officers respond, and while one
of the officers speaks with you, the second officer
interviews your girlfriend.  It soon becomes
apparent that both officers seem more interested in
your consumption of alcohol rather than the details
of the robbery.  Never the less, you get through
the interview, and the first officer gives you a police
report reference number, and the officers leave.

At this point, you're in a terrible mood.  You've just
been robbed as well as humiliated, and two police
officers made things even worse by showing little
interest in your traumatic experience.  The only
good thing is you still have your car keys.  Before
the officers departed, you asked about driving
home without your driver's license which was in
your wallet.  The first officer told you to show the
form with the report number to the police officer
should you be stopped on your way home;
however, your trip home is uneventful.

As time goes by, the humiliation you suffered from
the incident begins to fade, and you've replaced all
the contents of your wallet.  You're not that
confident that the men who robbed you will be
caught, but you provided a good description of the
suspects... particularly the first suspect who
manhandled you.  You told the officers that you had
no doubt you could identify him if you saw him
again.  While you're not that familiar with crime and
criminals, the behavior of the suspects showed
confidence, so you knew that they'd robbed before,
and they surely would rob again... and again.  You
hold out hope that one day you'll get a call from a
detective telling you that police have arrested two
men for committing a similar robbery to yours and
ask you to look at some mug shots... a perfectly
reasonable expectation.  You even put that police
report number inside your new wallet just in case
you might need it for future reference.  Now... if
you thought you felt bad the night of the robbery,
you'd really feel humiliated and enraged if you knew
what was actually contained in the report that
number represents.  In this scenario, you didn't get
a penny's worth of the billions of dollars poured into
law enforcement annually, and law enforcement
suffered one more setback for accurately tracking
and investigating crimes.
Importance of
Crime Reports
Every type of report you write will be
important, but reports of crime take on even
added importance.  The phrase, "If you don't
write it, it didn't happen," isn't just a clever
comment; it's the absolute truth.
~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
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