For all you police enthusiasts, GOA means Gone On Arrival. This time of year working night shift as a training officer I would save Clement C. Moore’s classic bedtime story for my probationary police officers. I had it printed out as an assignment to be completed as part of the training. The original poem was called, “A visit from St. Nicholas”, and is linked via the title bar.
The learning process for any job, police or otherwise, includes learning how to fill in the blanks of what ever standard forms the company uses; in the case of police officers there are incident reports, booking slips and evidence submission forms. Their knowledge of local and state law along with a working knowledge of standard operating procedures helps them as they determine what offense has taken place and how to go about filling in the blanks prior to organizing the details which are listed in the body of the report. I had a few “practice” reports ready at all times for these young officers to work on, The Night Before Christmas was a bonus saved for this time of year.
I would review each report and associated forms as if it were being turned in, just as a standard report is reviewed. Some of these officers had a limited amount of the Christmas Spirit and missed out on a chance to have some fun; getting it “out of the way and done with”. A few rare pleasant exceptions took the ball and ran with it, pages and pages of detailed police work to identify the getaway vehicle, dusting for prints left on the empty glass which had contained milk, the stolen cookies. I had one who listed photographic evidence of the soot marks left by a size 10 boot on the carpet in front of the fire place, witness statements that included, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night”. The titles on the reports were varied; the most common were Disorderly Conduct, Burglary of a Residence and Criminal Mischief.
One rookie put in the body of his report that he had contacted the district attorney’s office and was advised that no charges would be filed due to the fact that items of substantial value had been left that would offset any damage to the roof where the sled runners had ruined the shingles; I thought that was quite inventive. He had listed a detailed description of the suspect; his belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly, his clothing down to the boots, and the fact that the suspect was GOA, having left headed north in a red vehicle of unknown make and model with no license plates.
Maybe some training officer will pick up on my tip and keep this wonderful exercise alive for the next generation of probationary officers. I have a box, somewhere in the garage or up in the attic, full of field training reports. I hope to find some of those Night Before Christmas training reports to share. I had some of that on floppy disc; but it was for a very old version of DOS, prior to Windows and those have vanished “like wild leaves before the hurricane fly”.