Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

David Jolliffe

Committee Member

Patrick Slattery

Second Committee Member

Elias D. Barajas

Third Committee Member

Danielle Z. Wetzel

Abstract

This dissertation investigates police report writing at the Jackson Police Department in Northwest Arkansas. It presents three primary research questions which are addressed through qualitative methods of interview, observation, and discourse analysis.

1) In what ways does police training address report writing?

2) What audience awareness do police officers have when writing reports?

3)How do actual report audience members read and evaluate reports?

The police academy in this study fails to spend the necessary time discussing report writing. This is not rectified by the in-house training program, which pairs officers with Field Training Officers that are often reluctant or unqualified to address report writing. There is little to no discussion of the report genre, its purpose, or its readers. The readers of the report were unsatisfied with the report presented in the study. They complained that important information was left out and that details of the event were unclear. The audience response was completely underestimated by the officer who wrote the report. In his interview, he claimed all the information that he, his supervisor, prosecutor, and other readers would need was included in the report. This assumption was largely misplaced, and his limited audience awareness was demonstrated in this study. The primary finding of this dissertation is that current police training programs and literature fail to address important issues such as genre and audience in regards to report writing. This lack of training may result in officers that are unprepared to meet the literacy needs of judicial system.