601 – Reports
Completing reports is a vital part of working at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for most employees.
This policy provides directives on different types of reports.
[CALEA Standard 82.2.1]
Employees must complete a report whenever one is requested by a member of the public, or any time an incident should be documented for archival or legal purposes. If there are doubts about whether a report must be completed, a supervisor should be contacted for final determination.
Reports must be completed before the end of an employee’s shift, except where otherwise authorized by this policy and the Department Manual. Reports may be delayed up to 48 hours with a supervisor’s documented approval. The name and unit number of the authorizing supervisor will be included in the offense report.
Incident reports are narratives explaining the factual chronology of events while answering who, what, where, when, why, and how.
[CALEA Standard 82.2.2]
If an employee is involved in an incident, either by conducting an investigation, responding to a scene, or observing a criminal act, an incident report is generally required.
Situations which must be documented in an incident report include:
- Uses of force,
- Any criminal incident,
- Any situation requiring further investigation,
- Non-criminal activity which may later escalate into criminal activity or civil litigation, and
- Any other situation which may need to be documented or the facts could later be at issue.
Incident reports must include a scene summary.
A scene summary describes the location of the offense, type of premise, vehicle information if applicable, and location of any evidence.
It should explain how the objects on scene, like a vehicle or evidence, relate to the offense being investigated.
Incident reports must have a detailed narrative.
The narrative must introduce subjects involved by role and full name – e.g. “the suspect John Doe.”
Subjects can be addressed by last name or role after being introduced.
Explain what happened, what was said, who was spoken to, what actions were taken, and any other relevant information.
Check the policy that pertains to the topic of your report. The policy often contains suggestions as to what you need to include in your report.
An incident report will serve as a legal record and may be read by attorneys, judges, news media, and the public. With that in mind, remember it must be precise and professional.
Employees who respond to a vehicle accident must complete an accident report in accordance with the Texas Transportation Code, as well as a Law Report.
NOTE: Law Reports for vehicle accidents do not need a narrative. See below for more information on Law Reports.
MFR is a program allowing employees to complete and manage reports. It is primarily used by employees assigned to law enforcement duties. One or several different types of MFR reports may be required depending on the incident.
Law Report is a form in MFR which allows employees to submit their incident reports. Employees must also use Law Report to submit basic details regarding accident reports, in case the accident report is later lost or deleted.
The Law Report form has options for employees to input information regarding involved persons, vehicles, property, and more. Employees must complete as much of this form as possible.
Checkboxes in Law Report should be selected if they relate to the nature of the report. For example, check the CIT box if the report involved mental health.
In addition to the incident report, a Law Report requires a brief synopsis of the incident. This synopsis must not contain any personally identifying information because it may be publicly distributed. A good synopsis could be “Unknown suspect struck victim with closed fist, causing victim pain.” [CALEA Standard 82.2.1]
Employees must assign the case to themselves if no further investigation is needed, such as if no crime were committed, and close the case.
Employees must not close any case involving:
- Sex crimes,
- Child abuse,
- Robbery or aggravated assault,
- Information on suspects still at large,
- Follow up investigative information, or
- A scene where an investigator responded.
A supplement report is an addition to an incident report. A supplement report must be completed for any incident in which there is already an existing incident report, and there is no new offense.
Employees are able to submit supplement reports in MFR to Law Reports generated by most Harris County agencies.
If an employee is unable to submit a supplement report for any reason, an incident report must be completed instead.
Employees must complete an Arrest Report in MFR whenever an arrest is made. This applies in addition to any other reporting requirements, meaning an Arrest Report is always accompanied by an incident or supplement report.
MFR’s citation form allows employees to issue either a warning or a citation for Class C misdemeanors. A warning or citation must be issued for every traffic stop.
Racial Profiling Form
A racial profiling form must be completed for every traffic stop. See Policy #508 – Bias-Based Profiling.
NOTE: The racial profiling form is included in the citation form in MFR.
Property & Evidence Form
A property and evidence form, labelled “P&E Collection” in MFR, must be completed for every item submitted as property or evidence.
A tow slip must be completed any time a vehicle is towed from an HCSO scene. See Policy #619 – Towing.
Certain calls for service, such as a loud noise disturbance, may not require an incident report. Whenever an incident report is not required, information should be documented in the call notes.
If call notes span several pages, complete an incident report instead.
Physical documents acquired in the course of investigation, like notes, forms, and worksheets, must be attached to the related incident report.
Employees should reference included attachments in the report. This establishes a record of the attachment in case it is lost.
Attachments should be uploaded in MFR. If for any reason that is not possible, they should be submitted as evidence.
A bureau may generate administrative reports as required, such as for statistical purposes. These reports will be governed by the bureau’s standard operating procedures (SOP).
Supervisors are responsible for managing submitted reports and ensuring those reports are correctly categorized.
- Ensure reports are free of spelling and grammatical errors;
- Ensure reports have the essential details and structure, such as a scene summary and suspect description if applicable;
- Ensure reports are approved, or denied if corrections need to be made, in a timely manner to prevent delay in any investigation;
- Ensure approved reports are disseminated to the appropriate investigative unit or other personnel; and
- Ensure outstanding reports are completed.
Supervisors must check at least once per shift for missing reports and notify the affected personnel of their responsibility to complete the report.
NOTE: A tutorial to check for missing reports is available on the intranet.
The BlueTeam reporting software is used by supervisors to document incidents which require administrative review, such as pursuits and uses of force.
A BlueTeam report must be submitted by the end of a supervisor’s shift when it is required, unless otherwise authorized by the Department Manual.
Retention periods for reports will be governed by applicable law, and the Harris County Records Control Schedule.
- Must be maintained indefinitely, but
- May be expunged sooner if there’s a court ordered expunction.
Accident reports must be retained for a minimum of two years, or indefinitely if they involve a fatality.
MFR and BlueTeam Reports
MFR and BlueTeam reports will be retained in the same manner as the relevant incident report.
Administrative reports will be maintained in accordance with the governing bureau’s SOP.
If a report submission system, like MFR, is down for an extended period of time, employees must complete their reports consistent with procedures established by their Bureau Commander during the outage.
Failure to Complete Required Reports
Failure to complete a report by its deadline will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:
April 21, 2009
January 26, 2011
May 15, 2018
October 31, 2018
June 29, 2021