As a security guard, a key responsibility is to write detailed incident reports when a situation has occurred requiring intervention. Having the ability to write one of these reports properly is a critical skill that security guards should invest time in learning. Mistaken or incorrectly written reporting can result in a host of issues for following law enforcement actions, insurance claims, and other related activities. Consider some of the following tips when trying to find ways to improve your incident report writing habits:
Removing redundant words and phrases tightens up your writing, which creates an easier body of text for your audience to digest and understand and saves on valuable time that can get wasted writing excessive amounts of repetitive information. Using plain language that is clear and concise about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of an incident also ensures you don’t lose any important details in the report creation process. For security officers, the key to good incident reporting is the clear and informative nature of the needed details.
Remember Your Audience
When writing up your incident information, remember that multiple agencies needing different details and perspective may have to read it later. This could include personnel not familiar with security practices or language, like a building manager or medical services team. Your report may also find itself being submitted as evidence in a court trial, so using a narrative that is clear from any industry perspective is critical. What you write could have a financial or liability impact as well, so take it seriously and avoid overly vague or confusing terminology and expressions.
You’re Not an Author
If you struggle to write grammatically perfect English, don’t drive yourself crazy learning about dangling modifiers or passive voice. Consider finding examples of well-written incident reporting to get a better feel for structure. Security officers who have an interest in furthering their writing abilities should also consider NITA's course on Field Notes which can help teach them style and technique.
Incident Reports Are Not Editorials
Objectivity is a central feature within incident report writing that makes information clear and to the point. When you use personal opinions and attitudes in writing, how the reader perceives your meaning might not translate the way you hope. This is also true of making assumptions within your account that you may have created because you didn’t have a clear explanation for the circumstances that occurred.
Utilize Sequencing in Your Writing
Many times, when a security officer experiences an incident, multiple circumstances occur during that one event. To increase the clarity of the report, writing in a sequential form using numbers and/or letters is an effective technique. Recounting an incident in as simple a manner as this creates:
- Avoids cluttering of information
- Depicts an accurate timeline
- Helps eliminate the issue of missed details
Security officers who practice this method of writing will provide a crystal clear account for any agency needing to read and understand the report.
Learn More About Report Writing
Accurate report writing isn’t a difficult goal to achieve if a security officer has the appropriate training as part of his or her career foundation. Creating a report that gives detailed information in the correct sequence while using straightforward language and phrasing is a recipe for success. This skill takes development, time, and patience to mature, but with an additional course like NITA’s Field Notes and Report Writing, this process could receive a much-needed boost.
The National Investigative Training Academy, Inc. is an online provider of State-and Board-approved Private Investigator training classes. Our comprehensive online training programs offer a convenient and flexible method to achieve investigative career goals. Our memberships with organizations like the Florida Association of Licensed Investigators and the Georgia Association of Professional Private Investigators, Inc. demonstrates our commitment to providing the best resources and techniques available for Private Investigators through our training programs.
If you have any questions about this course or would like to find out more about our State-and Board-approved, pre-licensing training or continuing education opportunities, contact us today at 1-800-730-NITA (6482) or email us here.