We've compiled seven quick tips for writing a good narrative for your online report, followed by an example of a narrative for a theft case.
- Write in first person (using "I" and "me" pronouns). This is your account of events.
- Write your report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more details will be forgotten. If you have more information later, you can always submit a supplemental report to your initial one.
- Organize your thoughts. Putting events in chronological order paints a clearer picture of the incident.
- Be detailed and thorough. Dates, times, descriptions, and observations are important. However, remember that you have a 2000-character limit for Online Reporting narratives. We encourage you to be concise and to-the-point, but if this character limit is not enough to provide an account of a situation, you can certainly attach a document with further information (a document scanned as a photo or a PDF file work well).
- Proofread your narrative. It might help to write out your narrative in a word processing program, then copy and paste to the Online Reporting service (but do keep in mind that each page times out after 30 minutes!). Double-check your facts, run spellcheck, and consider asking a family member or friend to read through your narrative for clarity and typos.
- Attach pictures or supplemental documentation to your online report. If you have pictures related to your case, whether they be of stolen property, graffiti on your fence, or a smashed window on your car, you have the opportunity to upload these in the Online Reporting system. If you have a list of stolen property from a previously reported burglary or have been keeping a spreadsheet of nighttime activity at a suspected drug house, you can upload such documents as well (if you can save them as PDFs, those usually work best in our report system).
- Stay honest. Remember that filing a false police report is a crime! If you're not sure about something but think it's important to tell us, write in your narrative that you're not sure about that point.
Here is a sample report narrative for a theft case:
On 01/03/2017 at about 7:15am, I was leaving my house to go to work when I noticed that my garden gnome was missing from the front yard. It stands in my front yard, to the right (north) of the steps up to my front door. I last saw the gnome the previous night (01/02/2017) at about 8 or 8:30pm, so it must have been taken sometime overnight. The gnome is about 1.5 feet tall and is made out of heavy plaster. It looks like Doc from the movie of Snow White and is carrying a little lantern that is solar-powered and lights up at night. I attached a picture of the gnome to this report. I didn't hear or see anything suspicious during the night. I didn't give anyone permission to take the gnome. I don't know who would have taken the gnome.