How to Write a Police Memo

By Charlie Gaston

A police memo is used to provide additional information about a case, crime, investigation or other police matter. Part of a larger report, the memo is used to address key information as well as create a summary of key findings. While a police memo may vary by department, the formal characteristics and areas of interest remain the same. In other words, format changes may occur but some basic information must be included.

Use the Memo format in concert with relevant crime analysis and mapping documents. According to the Police Format Organization, the Memo format is a general format that is used in concert with smaller reports. The Memo format is written with the Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF template.

Enter the appropriate date format as instructed by the Memo template that is used at your academy or precinct. The two most common format options are: yyyy/dd/mmm or mm/dd/yyyy (for example, 2009/01/02 or 02/01/2009). The place on the page may vary from top left or right to mid-bottom, depending on the template that is used.

Familiarize yourself with common formats like third, first and second, and use as directed by your department. For third party statements, say, "The reporting officer heard a loud bang." Fir first person statements, say, "I heard a loud bang." For second person statements, say, "Sargeant Monroe heard a loud bang."

Chronicle all events from first to last using descriptive language. For example, using the third person format, the police memo would read, "The reporting officer heard a loud bang. As he turned to investigate, a dark green truck with a dented left front side quickly exited the "XYZ" parking lot located at 5555 Smith Street."

Verify the order of events as they are set out in the memo. Include all third party and witness statements, if applicable, as part of the narrative and avoid any bullet point lists. Include all information in a clear, cohesive narrative that explains the event or issue.

End the police memo. The order of the police memo can vary. For example, the memo can be organized as Introduction, Summary, Evidence, Witness Summary and Statement of Officers. The police memo should end with an Analysis and Conclusion section. This final section will address the items that were investigated in the memo/report. All conluding statements, observations and findings will be provided there.

About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.