At this very moment, our city is looking for the best person to run its police force. The selection process is not easy. It demands deep and slow consideration, because a poor choice could have devastating consequences. And just as there are certain people who have the best ability to be a police chief—to communicate with the public and officers about the operations of a major police department—there are also certain people who have the best talent to write a basic police report. Some can make the chronologically obvious events of real life seem jumbled and inscrutable, while others not only present the events as they happened but offer us insights into them. The latter such people are rare, hard to find, and unique in every way. This week's Police Beat is dedicated to an officer who may not be the best officer to run the whole force, but he is certainly one of the best officers to write a humble but incredibly useful police report, Officer Brian Kokesh.
Lake City/Sun May 9/11:51 pm The report, which is remarkable for the smoothness of the author's writing, concerns the investigation of a burglary that happened in a trailer park in the north part of town. Officer Kokesh reports: "I conducted a check of the residence and did not notice any sign of the interior being ransacked. The residence itself is a mobile home with light-colored metal siding. The majority of the window for the residence sits fairly high up and would require some type of step device to gain entry. I did not observe any type of scuffmarks on the metal siding or dirty footprints on the windowsill or carpet.
"The victim told me all items stolen from the residence were sitting out in the open and did not require the suspect(s) to have to dig through or open any doors, drawers, or boxes. The victim walked me through the residence and provided me with location and item description of the stolen property.
"Stolen from the master bedroom were a Sony PlayStation gaming console, all necessary cords, and games. Victim advised some of those items were stored in a box, which was fairly heavy and cumbersome. The victim then walked me to the dining-room area and showed me a portable wood shelf system. Stolen from this area were a men's wristwatch, a box containing $10,000 in large-denomination U.S. paper currency, and a Dell laptop computer. In the living room, victim advised a glass container with approximately $300 in U.S. coin currency was stolen. While conducting this investigation, victim stated he was unable to locate his Canon point-and-shoot digital camera. The victim advised there were other valuable items that showed no indication of being touched or disturbed."
Ignore the curious fact that there was an amazing amount of money in this trailer, and focus instead on the steady rhythm of Officer Kokesh's writing and the wealth and clarity of his details. Good writing goes hand in hand with good police work. A poor writer will most likely be poor at catching the important details of a crime scene. You can, as a reader, make better judgments from a clear police report. Likewise, a police chief who communicates poorly will turn the entire department into an obscurity.