OBSERVATION & DOCUMENTATION (Lesson 6 of 26)
The essential parts of any report are the facts. Names, descriptions of individuals, vehicles, buildings, surroundings, correct dates and times are critical when attempting to reconstruct on paper what actually took place.
Often a report is written several minutes or several hours after an event has occurred. People who can provide answers may no longer be available for questioning.
Every security officer and supervisor should carry a pen and small pocket notebook to document key facts as they occur. Names, titles and even descriptions can often be quickly noted even during an emergency. This information can prove to be critical months later.
The following are some helpful hints to remember when you are reconstructing the incident from your notes in preparation for writing your report.
- Write what happened in chronological order. What happened first, what happened next, and next, etc…
- Be sure to include the names, titles, positions and department numbers of all employees involved.
- Include names, addresses and, if possible, social security numbers of all non-employees who are either witnesses or who were involved in the incident.
- Explain in plain, simple English what happened. If you mention a building by its name or number, give its location as well. Remember many people who will read this report are not as familiar with directions and locations as you are.
- When you begin to write your report, constantly refer to your notes. Don’t include your opinion or comments and don’t editorialize. You can give your opinion or comments about the incident in person to your superior.
- Don’t discard your notes. Keep them until your superior advises you to discard them.
- Write your report before you leave work. Leaving the job before your report is written gives a bad impression of your security department.
Recordkeeping, Storage, and use of Computers
Security reports and logs should be kept secure at all times. Many security departments maintain these records for several years. These reports, when retained, are valuable in proving or disproving claims against an organization. Many security departments track all incidents and categorize them by event. By tracking incidents, security managers are better prepared to conduct investigations such as theft and accidents.
Many security departments have personal computers available for their security officers to directly input their reports. Other departments use computers to track incidents.
As stated previously, it is essential that all security reports be written factually, clearly and neatly. A security manager should never be embarrassed over the quality of written reports.