Make a Good Report Even Better

In June 2016, an Iowa man named Dusten Kemp threatened to shoot a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver. You can read the affidavit below. (To learn more about the incident, click here.)

This is a well written narrative – efficient, objective, and thorough.

I’m especially impressed that the officer who wrote it put the periods inside the quotation marks. Many writers don’t know how to punctuate quotations – but this officer did it correctly.

Domino's Pizza

Still, this is a good opportunity to look at some writing issues.

1. Take a look at this sentence:

When the delivery driver arrived at the address given and turned the pizza’s over, the driver stated that the defendant was drunk and took his clothes off.

  • Pizza’s is wrong. The plural of pizza is pizzas. (Apostrophes belong in of expressions: “There was cheese in the pizza’s crust.”)
  •  “The address given” is unnecessary. Where else would Domino’s deliver a pizza?
  • The driver’s statement is confusing. In the report, it sounds as if the driver talked to police at Kemp’s home. That’s not what happened. The police talked to both men at Domino’s Pizza.
  • Be careful with “he” when there are two males. Make sure readers aren’t confused about who did what: Kemp or Smith?

Here’s how the sentence could have been written:

When the driver arrived at the address, he saw that Kemp was drunk and had taken his clothes off.

2. This sentence should be more specific: what threats did Kemp make? And you should use Kemp’s name, not the subject. Aim to make your reports easy for others to read.

He stated that the subject then grabbed his arm and made several threats about them messing up his order.  VAGUE

Smith said, “Kemp grabbed my arm and threatened to kill me because of last night’s mistake.”  BETTER

3. The report could be written more efficiently. Nowadays officers have laptops with spaces for the date, time, and address. Don’t waste time repeating information you’ve already recorded.

Here’s how the beginning of the report could have been written:

We arrived at Domino’s Pizza and questioned Kemp and Smith. Smith works for Domino’s Pizza delivering pizzas. Kemp is a Domino’s customer.

Kemp said that last night he ordered a Domino’s pizza. The driver made a mistake with the delivery. Domino’s promised to send a free pizza tonight.

Smith said he arrived at Kemp’s home with a free pizza. Kemp was drunk and not wearing clothing. Smith said, “Kemp grabbed my arm and threatened to kill me because of last night’s mistake.”  BETTER

Overall, however, it’s an excellent report.

Domino's Pizza


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