Report Writing and Observation Training

As a security officer, your job is to act as a deterrent to crime by your presence. You are in a position to observe any suspicious activity and report on the incident. Report writing is essential to communication between the client and the security officer. The client relies on well-written and neatly presented documents. These documents reflect the professionalism brought to the client by your company.

Field Notes

Reasons for field note:

  • To help to remember details
  • To help find out what happened

Field Notebook:

  • A pocket-sized notebook with thin, lined filler paper.
  • Two writing instruments, including one pencil.

Questions:

  • Ask, “Who, what, when, where, why, and how?”
  • Let one question lead to the next
  • Ask as many questions as you can think of.

Write down all of the essential information:

  • Names, addresses, race, sex, hair color, eye color, approximate height, weight and age, clothing description, vehicle description, year, make, model, color, and license plate number.
  • Note the time of day and what happened
  • Remember that you are creating a record of what happened.

Practical Reminders:

  • Use your notebook for your notes. Use plenty of room to write your notes.
  • Write as neatly and clearly as possible.
  • Number your pages.
  • Put the same information in the same place each time.
  • Be concise. Be accurate. Be complete. Be specific.
  • File your notes so that you can find them later.

Written Report

Narrative

a) Requires good writing skills and practice

b) Is written in the “first person,” i.e., “I…”

c) The security officer

  • expands the information from his field notes;
  • explains the event in logical order;
  • and arranges the report to present the details

d) A narrative report is a summary of an incident

  • Overview- date, time, location, event suspect, victim
  • Witnesses- listed by name, address, phone, description, relation to the incident, and a summary of what they can testify to.
  • Evidence- numbers and lists and evidence seen
  • A detailed narrative of the event- including “5-W’s and H” in time sequence from beginning to end.

Pre-printed

a) Form-style report (fill-in the blank)

b) The security officer

  • completes the form from information in field notes
  • fills in all the blanks; if one does not apply, use the notation N/A
  • pays attention to detail and accuracy
  • write a summary of the event at the end of the pre-printed form.

Correct Writing

A well-written report is:

  • Clear
  • complete
  • neat
  • accurate
  • legible
  • written in plain, “everyday” language
  • free from opinion, prejudice, and bias

Pay special attention to the following areas:

1. Spelling- if you use a computer to type your report, access the “tools” and perform a spelling and grammar check. If the report is handwritten, use a dictionary to verify spelling.

2. Grammar- if you use a computer to type your report, access the “tools” and perform a spelling and grammar check. Use short, clear sentences to minimize grammatical errors if the report is handwritten.

3. Objective versus subjective- As you make observations that you are required to report, it is necessary to distinguish between objective and subjective. The type of description you should use in your report is objective, factual commentary. This could include a person’s height, weight, skin color, weapons seen, threats made, etc. A subjective comment is one in which you are expressing an opinion. For instance, you see a man running from an open door, and you conclude he was breaking in. This conclusion is subjective. Avoid making subjective comments.

4. Legibility- If possible, use a computer to type your report. It has the advantages of spelling and grammar checks, being legible, and being saved for future reference. Otherwise, use a pencil and print legibly.

D. Importance

A written report provides an understandable, permanent record of an event. It provides a traceable method for a security officer to communicate important information to his employer and client.

1. Client

The security personnel may be the only source of information for the client for certain issues, including repairs (lights, doors, etc). And the more information is provided to the client, the more he has confidence in your ability.

2. Court Documentation

Written documentation from the time of an event serves as an excellent resource to recall events far testimony in a court of law.