We get questions from clients all the time about whether our incident reporting software allows them to edit officer reports, and whether or not they should be making those edits in the first place. Given how common this issue can be, we feel like the question is worth diving into deeply.
Why Edit A Report?
Look, sometimes security guards write poor reports. They misspell words, make grammatical errors, or just don’t put in enough pertinent information. We know this happens all the time, which is why we devoted an entire episode to tips for improving security guard report writing.
Clients aren’t hiring you for the report, they’re concerned with the guards on site. The problem comes if they can’t understand the report, or if the report contains a lot of filler or inaccuracies.
“When your client looks at a report and sees all the times that are rounded off, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock, nothing observed, a lot of times they’ll think the officers are just pre-writing the report,” I told Johnny on today’s episode.
If it looks like your officers are pre-writing the report and just filling in times, that’ll lead the client to suspect they’re not even walking the route or doing the work, and now you have an issue with accountability.
In situations such as these, it’s understandable that supervisors would want to edit officer reports to make them more presentable, but is that really the best solution to the problem?
Why You Shouldn’t Edit Officer Reports
Having a vague or confusing report hurts your accountability, but so does having a report that’s been heavily edited by a supervisor. Customers want to be hearing directly from an officer in the field, not a supervisor that wasn’t even on-site.
That’s why our incident reports and daily activity reports come with the default that supervisors cannot edit reports. This is intentional, and its an assurance that our customers can give to their customers that they’ll be getting the authentic report from the officer on-site.
What we do allow is for administrators to come in and create additional notes for clarification and increased specificity. What it doesn’t allow is for supervisors to change things like times, dates, etc. that clients want to know is coming accurately from the officer.
To compensate, we add in features that take a lot of the burden off of guards to handle the report writing in the field. Checkpoints automatically track the times when officers arrive at a location on their patrol route. Guards can easily attach pictures or audio files to a report to clearly convey what they encounter on patrol.
By using these tools, officers can spend more time working the site and less time writing a report, all while the client gets information that is clear, accurate, and helpful.
When Should You Make Edits Or Comments?
The most important thing is to maintain integrity between you and your customer. Establish early on the standards of what they need from reports, and make sure your officers understand those standards. In most cases, as long as all the information is there and easy to understand, most clients won’t be concerned with a misspelling here or there.
Simply put, trying to edit every single Daily Activity Report for every single site is not an efficient or a scalable process. If you find yourself in this position, it’s time to either work on developing better writing skills for your officers or to develop a relationship with the client where they understand the importance of what gets done on-site versus the minutiae of the report.
One exception is if your officers report an incident that, for whatever reason, might end up in a courtroom. In those situations, you’ll want to go over the report immediately, before it gets filed, so that you can absolutely confirm its accuracy.
Otherwise, having supervisors edit or contribute to officer reports is simply not an efficient use of their time, which can be better spent managing guards, keeping schedules in order, and finding new ways to deliver the best possible service.
We’re not saying never make edits, but know that if it becomes a regular part of your routine, something has gone significantly wrong. Whether you need improved training on report writing, clearer communication of expectations for what tasks officers need to be performing, or simply better tools, there are ways to consistently produce quality incident reports and DARs that don’t require supervisor intervention.