Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
Notes are the foundation of an investigation and can often come into play months or years after an incident. No longer a means of simply refreshing an officer’s memory, notes play a critical role in judicial proceedings where there is a direct link between an officer’s notes, their report, and their testimony.
Note Taking reviews the legal expectations with regard to note taking and describes how a systematic approach to note taking will ensure the completeness and integrity of an officer’s notebook. It also provides guidelines for effective note taking, including preparation at the beginning of a shift, preparing to give testimony, and techniques to improve note taking.
When you have completed this course you will be able to:
- Recall that note taking is the foundation of an investigation, and poor notes may lead to poor report writing and to poor testimony
- Recall that the legal expectations in regards to note taking are increasing in complexity
- Compose your notes so that the event can be recalled months or years later
- Compose your notes and adhere to both legal requirements and your agency’s policy
- Recall that, as an officer, you must prepare your investigative notebook at the beginning of each shift
- Describe and record in your notes the details of an incident in a clear, concise, factual, and professional manner
- Locate all of the necessary information and ensure that your notes are complete
- Recall that you must articulate your justification for the use of force
- Compose your notes according to the guidelines when no investigative notebook is available
- Ensure that you exclude any information that may reveal a confidential informant
- Recall your organization’s policy regarding confidential informants and note taking
- Evaluate your notes for completeness and accuracy