Report_Writing_for_the_SSO - National Association of School

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Report Writing for School Safety Officers

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Module Learning Objectives

After completion of this course, you should be able to answer the following questions  • Why is accurate report writing important?

• What’s the best way to gather facts for a report?

• What’s the best way to organize a report?

• What are the essential elements of a good report?

Writing Reports

or Why do I have to spend so much time and energy writing stuff which most of the time doesn’t matter any way ?

Definition of a School Incident Report:

An orderly written account of the facts of an incident that have been observed, heard or investigated.

Importance of a Well-Written Report I.

Multiple readings and uses of the report.

II.

Documentation for your actions, judgment and decisions.

Who sees and what uses are there for the reports that SSOs write ?

Multiple Uses of SSO Reports

• Report is used by many different groups.

• Report information is used for many different purposes.

Law Enforcement

Agency

How a school incident report may be used: • Decisions about further investigation or action.

Judge

How a school incident report may be used: • Conditions for pre-trial release • Setting bail • Sentencing

Prosecutor

How a SSO Incident report may be used:  Charging  Priority of case  Plea agreements  Ability to proceed based on evidence and report data

Defense Attorney

How a SSO Incident Report may be used: Advice for client based on strength of case

Pre-Sentence Investigation

How a SSO Incident Report may be used:  Seriousness of incident  Lethality factors  Substance abuse treatment

Child/Adult Protective Services

How a SSO Incident Report may be used: Determination if services or protection is needed for the children, elderly or disabled members in household

Jury

How a SSO Incident Report may be used:  Understanding of the case and evidence  Is the defendant guilty?

Rehabilitation Program

How a SSO Incident Report may be used: • Circumstances of a possible abusive incident • Level of violence, neglect, and past violence • Substance abuse issues

Court-Ordered Supervision

How a SSO Incident Report may be used: What level of supervision is needed?

Victim

How a SSO Incident Report may be used:  Protection orders  Civil actions  Child custody issues

Advocate

How a SSO Incident may be used: • Safety concerns and planning • Follow-up advocacy

Future Investigations/Charges/Discipline

How a SSO Incident Report may be used:  Historical record for future use;  Your agency, other agencies, background investigations

Importance of Documentation

I.

Establishes that a incident occurred and details the specifics of the incident. II.

Communicates all relevant information for actions taken by SSO, including the reason for the investigation.

Importance of Documentation

(continued)

III.

Serves as a permanent record of SSO’s observations and actions regarding a particular incident.

IV.

Documents interviews and on scene investigation even if custodial detentions does not occur.

The “7” report writing essentials

1. Who --------------------- (person’s full name, DOB, address, phone #’s, parents’ names, school ) 2. What -------------------- (actions taken / seen / heard) 3. Where --------------( pinpoint locale of incident & people) 4. When ------------------- (give the date and exact time) 5. How -------( list chronologically the events of the incident) 6. Why ------------------- (if known / reasons / motives) 7. Action taken ---- (what you did or what are you recommending in response to the incident)

WRITING STYLES  Manuscript: e.g., it was a dark and stormy night  Chronological, e.g., begin at the beginning  Introduction  Body  Conclusion  “ Bullet Pointing”

I.

Characteristics of Well-Written SSO Reports

Factual II.

Accurate III.

Objective IV.

Complete, yet concise and clear

Characteristics of Well-Written Police Reports

cont.

V.

Includes available supplemental documents/forms VI.

Includes school behavioral history of violence or other school rules infractions of the offender VII.

Protects confidentiality of victim’s address when necessary

I.

Report Characteristics: Factual

Includes exact statements; II.

Contains excited utterances in quotes; III.

Demonstrates emotions by describing the demeanor of those present;

Report Characteristics: Factual

cont.

IV.

Contains facts and items that can be verified through one of your five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell V.

Write everything that is seen and heard

I.

II.

III.

Report Characteristics: Accurate

Time of dispatch, response, incident recorded as precisely as possible Document other important points of time during the incident Correct names, dates of birth, addresses, and identification of all present including children and witnesses

IV.

Report Characteristics: Accurate

cont.

Measurements included are accurate, serial # of weapons noted, detailed description of weapons included, scene accurately described V.

Injuries are carefully noted, described and documented VI.

Include names and titles of others responding to the scene, i.e., emergency medical personnel, volunteer fire department, Principal , etc.

I.

II.

III.

IV.

Report Characteristics: Objective

Contains descriptive language, not opinions DON’T write: She had a scratch on her face.

DO write: She had a four inch horizontal scratch across her left cheek from ear to upper lip.

Contains all accounts of the incident, even if they conflict.

I.

II.

III.

IV.

Report Characteristics: Complete

Contains who, when, what, where and how in detail; Explains why, if applicable, in an objective manner; Uses direct language; and Advises of arrest, request for warrant, what to next.

All area’s of your report should meet the criteria of the “4”

C’s: 1. C

ompleteness (Full names & #’s for all involved)

2. C

onciseness (Leave in the important details, leave out the unnecessary ones! Experience will teach you this how to do this)

3. C

learness (Use simple words & sentences. Use proper grammar, vocabulary & spelling)

4. C

orrectness (Your entire report is accurate & factual)

Keep facts separate from opinions!!

• Facts: Statements that can be verified.

• Opinion: One persons point of view.

Taking notes:

• Is the 1 st step in writing a report.

• Allows you the opportunity to gather the information when it is fresh.

• Allows you to get complete information on all persons involved.

• You don’t have to rely on your memory for important / critical information.

Preparing to write: • With all of the information you have gathered you are ready to organize.

- Before writing, take time to think what you want to write.

- Asses your readers needs and try to answer them all.

- Outline your report using the “7” essentials.

Always review your report after you have completed it!

Do you have all the necessary information?

• Date • Time • Place • Participants • Witnesses

Keep in Mind

Write the report in such a way so that someone who wasn’t at the scene could read the report and feel as if they had actually responded.

Everything that you write, like everything you say and how you conduct yourself on the job makes a statement about you!

The words that you chose, the way that you put them into sentences and the tone that you use also reflect on you!

Reality Check What are the two most important lessons you have learned from this component?

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