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Writing a Police Report Narrative
Police officers complete reports for every call to which they respond. Reports are a very important part
of their job because they record important details of an event and are used to help detectives with
investigations or as pieces of evidence in court. Therefore, police reports must be clear, factual, and
One part of the police report is the narrative. This is a section in which an officer describes everything
that he observed at the scene. Victims are identified, perpetrators are described based upon witness
testimony, the scene (time and place) is recorded, and the situation is summarized. The narrative
consists of facts – what the officer saw, heard, (possibly) smelled, observed, and experienced.
Basic Format for a police report narrative:
1. Begin with a one-sentence synopsis.
On May 14, 2011, at approximately 3:45 PM, an unidentified male entered McCabe’s Pub and
stole $198 from the register.
2. Provide a summary of the crime. Explain what happened in chronological order (beginning,
3. Witnesses may be identified, and important details from their interviews may be included. If you
have a statement from a victim or witness, write exactly what he or she says in quotation marks.
Marks stated, “He yelled, ‘Open the register and get on the floor!’”
1. Use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Police reports become part of the public
record and may be used in court. You want to make a good impression in order to be
considered knowledgeable and reliable.
2. Consider your audience. Use Standard English (not slang, police codes, or abbreviations) so that
anyone reading the report understands the meaning clearly.
Sample police report narrative:
On May 14, 2011, at approximately 3:45 PM, an unidentified male entered McCabe’s Pub and stole $198
from the register. McCabe’s Pub was open, but there were no customers at the time of the crime. Carol
Marks, co-owner, was cleaning tables when the suspect entered. Marks stated, “He yelled, ‘Open the
register and get on the floor!’” She did not see a weapon. After the suspect removed all of the money
from the register, he ran out the front door. Ms. Marks called 9-1-1 at 3:57 PM. She described the
suspect as a “twenty-something” white male wearing a red t-shirt, jeans, and a Yankees cap.
1. Watch one of these videos: