Report writing 3

                                                          Brad Mills



My Training Officer was Kennyth B. Johnson.  Because of what this man taught me about report writing and life in Watts in general, I named my first-born son after him, in 1969.  You should know that I am white and Kenny was black.  (He's passed away now -one of the saddest days of my life.)  Kenny didn't subscribe to the modern day idea of racism.  He taught me that if I was going to work an ethnic area as a white deputy sheriff, I needed to know and understand the thinking and motivations of the people I was to serve.  I can remember, almost 40 years later, the reaction of patrons at the Louisiana Hot Spot - when a black deputy sheriff and a young, snot nosed (23 years old) deputy sheriff - in uniform - sat down and ordered chitlins, neck bones, rice and okra.


The first night I got in a Radio Car with Kenny, he said he wanted me to see one word EMBLAZONED on the windshield of the Radio Car - THINK!


Kenny taught me to ENJOY report writing.  He told me, "Don't be afraid of writing reports." whether it be a 488b or a 187.  He said a lot of the deputies don't like to write reports because it takes away from their patrol time, "report writing is the most important part of your job".  I came to learn that what Kenny said was true.  No brag - just fact - I have received several commendations on my report writing ability, thanks to Kenny.


Kenny taught me - with deference to Vic Kretsinger and Claude Anderson - that just three things go in a report.  1) What you were told, 2) what you observed and 3) what you did.  And... these go in the report in the order in which they happened.  The Who, What, What, Where, Why and How will be answered if you follow steps 1, 2 and 3 above.


I learned to write reports the Firestone way.  I have been thrown out of the Watch Sergeant's Office because my report(s) didn't suit him. Kenny has torn up and thrown out the window of our Radio Car more of my reports than I care to remember - causing me to start over - and ... he has thrown out the window of our Radio Car my entire clipboard - with the report attached - because the report was not up to his standards.  Kenny drilled into my head that when I signed my name to a report, it had to be the best that I could do.  He told me that the Brass in headquarters would judge me on my reports and that my reports would make or break my career.


Kenny taught me to be aware of where we were at all times - even when I had my head down writing a report.  I remembered his teachings when I became a Training Officer.  I had a Trainee who wouldn't look up from time to time to ascertain where we were.  So... we were working 15 PM's.  He was busily writing reports - about 3 behind. 


All of a sudden I locked up the brakes, grabbed my chest and yelled "I'VE BEEN SHOT!  SEND OUT A 997!


I asked him "Where Are We?" in the middle of a block.  He said, "Duh, I don't know".  I told him, "Get out of the car and check the street signs".  The "astute" trainee ran BACK a block to read the street sign.  You know what I did, I accelerated FORWARD to the next intersection and waited for the gomer.  He never did that again and from then on he always knew where we were.


Remember... When you sign your name to a report - MAKE SURE IT IS THE BEST YOU CAN DO!