Chapter 2: Literacies at work, for fun, and at school
The daily schedule of a police officer is extremely unpredictable. When citizens are in a crisis, they contact the police to come and resolve the problems. Citizens are involved in crimes throughout the day such as shootings, Motor vehicle thefts, identity thefts, Motor vehicle accidents, and Domestic violence disputes between families and couples. Crime changes daily but what remains consistent is the literacy of the job. Every day officers have an obligation to read, write, and communicate with someone. For example, after making an arrest, officers may need to read a suspect his or her rights before transporting them to jail. Another part of literacy could involve an officer explaining the proper steps a victim must take to prosecute the suspect for their crime. Next form of literacy could be typing a criminal report including the victim, suspect and witness’s personal information along with details of the crime. There are many documents we must memorize and explain to people every day.
As a police officer, we are informed that our job would consist of tons of writing. Having a pen and scrap of paper for the start of our shift is a requirement. The use of scrap paper will be utilized at the beginning of our shift in Roll Call. Roll call is a brief meeting between all officers before the shift starts, to inform the officers who their partner will be for the day and what is expected. Any important address or location that needs special attention should be written down on your scrap paper. Many times, during the Roll call meetings, officers are assigned special assignments. Any information including an address, phone number or a name should be written down, so it is not forgotten.
Next, we must document the condition of our police vehicle before we utilize it for our shift. The condition of the car will be recorded on our body cameras for accountability purposes, which I will discuss in more detail later. Then, we enter our selected police vehicle and sign onto the computer using a password that is more than likely written down to remember. When we log onto the computer, we are then able to see crimes reported by the police dispatch on our computer screens. We refer to the crimes the dispatcher communicates to us a Call. (Calls are another word for crimes). The most recent crimes are displayed on the computer screen and have all the details the caller gave to the dispatcher such as, the type of crime, location of crime, victim’s name, suspects name, phone number and any other valuable information. Prior to driving to the location where a crime was committed, we must communicate with the police dispatcher that we are available to respond to a call in our area. Once we are driving to the location where the crime occurred, we must communicate the times of arrival and departure. We are required to make it to the location in a timely manner, therefore we must communicate with the dispatcher often. The dispatcher will give us a timestamp each time we have confirmed we arrived. All timestamps must be written on your duty at the end of the day.
The Duty is an incredibly detailed document that we must complete at the end of our day/shift. The duty report shows the department a well-documented form with all the radio calls an officer has handled the entire shift. In this document everything must be accurate, or it can lead to administrative punishment. Below is a sample duty I created to resemble a day an Officer would have. It includes reports, speaking with victims or whoever called the police for help and other details of the incident. Below is a sample report with fake data, not a real report.
The duty is equivalent to swiping in at another job. It shows your daily work and what you have done that day. It is used to document the arrival and departure times along with the disposition of the call. When an officer finally arrives on scene, they must assess the scene for safety and if they feel they will need assistance from other officers. Officers would then communicate with the individual who called the police and take care of the issue. Officers must note the problems and meet the needs of the individual. When officers leave the scene, it is required we communicate with the dispatcher and or a sergeant to give a disposition. Afterwards officers are more than likely responsible for typing a report for the victim. The report must usually be completed by the end of your shift. Typing the report requires details and should mirror what the victim stated occurred in detail. The typed report must include the elements of a crime related to what the victim stated. The report will not be accepted if it is missing critical details and if the grammar is not up to standards. Revising reports can be like correcting an essay for English class. The reason the report must have a certain standard is if the crime reaches a court room; it will be more appropriate for the judge to read and understand along with others inside of a court room. The court will be able to access the body camera we wear also.
The body camera is protection for the officers and the individuals who may have their rights violated. The body camera can also serve as a learning tool if we would like to improve our interaction skills. I remember reviewing my body camera to reference a certain comment a victim stated, and I realized the way I spoke was unprofessional. I was not proud of the way I communicated. I remember listening to my body camera and I heard myself using phrases like, “Where she go, how you doing, and Wassup”. To me, that is not professional at all and it needed to be changed immediately. I want to represent not only the police but myself in a more appropriate manner.
After submitting the report, you have officially completed a report. Other reports may require entering evidence and documents given to the victim but for a simple report, it just involves typing and submitting the report itself. Sometimes we may arrest a person and take them to jail. That process involves reading suspects their rights and communicating what will happen next. When we transport the suspects to the county jail, we must communicate with the county officers and complete a booking form for the suspect. Reading, writing, and communication are essentials used by police daily. It can take a while to process everything an officer has to do when you are new to the job. Even veteran officers forget how to properly complete work. Writing is prevalent every day whether working on the road or being in the office. Writing and typing are essential to the department as well. If any officer would like to become a better officer, they must increase all literacy skills. In between reading, writing, and communicating, we still must be safe and protect ourselves. The job comes with multiple tasks and repetition becomes easier every day. Policework changes daily and we must embrace change and learn new rules and policies.