08/21/2012 From www.PoliceOne.

com Police Tech & Gear with Tim Dees

Website Helps Marginal Report Writers Few colleges and even fewer high schools do an ade !ate "o# of conferring #asic s$ills in %nglish and math onto their grad!ates. &hen ' was a field training officer ( an em#arrassingl) long time ago ( the most common *ro#lem new officers had was the ina#ilit) to write good re*orts. &e didn+t have a lot of reso!rces availa#le for these fol$s, and more than a few washed o!t of the *rogram #eca!se the) co!ldn+t master the necessar) s$ills in the time the field training *rogram allowed. -s with most ever)thing else in life, there is a sol!tion now availa#le on the 'nternet. .ometimes it was a matter of organi/ation, not #eing a#le to red!ce what the) had o#served or #een told to a few concise *aragra*hs. 0ore commonl), the disconnect was with #asic literac) s$ills. ' ta!ght criminal "!stice in small, mostl) two1)ear colleges for eight )ears. -t most of these schools, wa) more than 20 *ercent of incoming st!dents did not do well eno!gh on *lacement tests to #e allowed to enroll in college1level %nglish co!rses. The same was tr!e of college1level math, #!t that+s another stor). Don’t Know What They Don’t Know?&orse )et, these same st!dents resisted com*leting the classes the) needed to im*rove these critical s$ills high school grad!ates are s!**osed to $now. The) wanted to enroll in all the criminal "!stice core co!rses ( that was the 3co* st!ff4 ( #!t *referred to save the %nglish and math co!rses for later. The) got an awf!l o#"ect lesson when the) fo!nd m) classes were writing1intensive and things li$e grammar and s*elling co!nted as m!ch as content. Given that all of these st!dents com*leted their wor$ with word *rocessors that a!tomaticall) chec$ for *ro*er s*elling and grammar, ' didn+t thin$ there was m!ch of an e5c!se for

t!rning in a *a*er containing errors. One st!dent who s!#mitted his wor$ electronicall) via email consistentl) sent me *a*ers with grossl) miss*elled words ( all easil) identified #) that red wav) line 0icrosoft &ord *!ts !nder an) word it doesn+t find in its dictionar). ' had him in m) office one da) and as$ed wh) he alwa)s sent me *a*ers with errors. 3' didn+t $now those words were miss*elled.4 3Do )o! see that red line !nderneath some words6 That alerts )o! that the) are miss*elled.4 3' didn+t $now what that meant.4 37o! want to #e a *olice officer, right6 'n the co* #i/, that red s !iggl) line wo!ld #e called a 8cl!e.+ 't merits f!rther investigation.4 7es, man) of m) st!dents hated me. 9ow that ' en"o) *ett) fame as a contri#!tor here on PoliceOne, ' occasionall) receive messages from former st!dents who told me the) hated #eing in m) classes, #!t learned more from me than most of their other instr!ctors. The !*shot is that ( with some e5ce*tions ( few colleges and even fewer high schools do an ade !ate "o# of conferring #asic s$ills in %nglish and math onto their grad!ates. ' co!ld e5*lain wh) ' thin$ this is so, #!t that+s material for another col!mn. 'n the end, a high school or even a college di*loma is no g!arantee of #asic literac). 7o! need to eval!ate ever) new officer candidate to assess their individ!al s$ills:. 'f )o! wo!ld *refer a more str!ct!red a**roach, the we#site )o!r*olicewrite.com ma) #e of hel*. The we#site is the wor$ of Dr. ;ean <e)nolds, an %nglish *rofessor and the a!thor of The Criminal Justice Report Writing Guide for Officers, availa#le on -ma/on.com or in an e#oo$ version from .mashwords.com. -t the )o!r*olicewrite.com we#site, Dr. <e)nolds has some #adl) written *assages to *ractice editing =with the #etter version also *osted>, PowerPoint dec$s for twelve lessons in re*orting writing, a diagnostic test and answer $e), and lin$s to several *odcasts on

re*ort writing. 't+s a first1rate reso!rce, and one that is even more val!a#le in this era of red!ced #!dgets and c!t#ac$s.

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