When I was growing up, a man in my hometown wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper just about every week. He addressed various topics but the general thread was that civilized society was a hairsbreadth away from melting down. The reason cited was usually some snippet he spotted in the previous week’s police blotter. So, I blame him. He got me reading the police blotter and I’ve never quit.
I read the local blotter religiously and am embarrassed to say it often makes me laugh. Right at the outset, I want to be clear that I know crime isn’t funny. But I am a devotee of peoples’ stories and not only read the blotter, but read Police were called to Wal-mart … because two women were arguing after one of them did not yield the right of way to the other woman’s shopping cart.obituaries as well. I’d like to claim that I am interested in the human condition but I really think I just like to ponder what makes people tick. Sometimes they make me appreciate my own life or they give me a chance to live vicariously. Really, there is something cathartic in walking over to a guy irritating you and slapping him with a raw steak. Read on.
In addition to my own collection, I’ve got friends and relatives who, once aware of my habit, send me snippets from other places. Here are some of my favorites, grouped loosely by their appeal.
Food (and related items)
“According to police reports, the argument was over spaghetti…”
“Police were called to … where two adult brothers were fighting over a McDonald’s double cheeseburger…”
“A man told police his apartment was burglarized, with a suspect taking 150 CDs, a TV, a pair of shoes, two gaming systems, a guitar, two amplifiers, a subwoofer, four pairs of sunglasses, 2 Bob Marley plaques, an autographed football and 12 video games, worth more than $5,500. The unknown suspect also ate the victim’s Doritos.” (emphasis added)
“A caller…reported that a neighbor came over to use the bathroom and when leaving took some paper plates.”
Last but not least, how about the woman who, after her boyfriend refused a slice of bread and demanded a dinner roll, slapped him in the face with a raw steak. That’s love.
Speaking of loved ones, sometimes you just need some space. Or not.
“A woman … called police to report a man missing. She had told the man to leave and not return, then changed her mind.”
“An officer received a complaint from a woman who said her mother had arrived for Christmas and was now refusing to leave.”
While in law school, I had a student practice license which allowed me to represent the State of Illinois in traffic court. I am here to tell you that there is no limit to the stories an accused will relate to get out of a ticket. I still pine for the incredible rationales proffered by the criminal. Similarly, the blotter doesn’t disappoint.
“Police were called to Wal-mart… because two women were arguing after one of them did not yield the right of way to the other woman’s shopping cart.”
“A man playing disc golf in a park…allegedly cut down a mature tree with a chain saw to retrieve his disc.”
But my favorite is this guy; note the careful parsing of words. He must have been a terrific teenager, a real credit to the age group.
“A man with no shirt and a cowboy hat was in a parking lot …twirling flaming sticks around the parked cars. An officer arrived and… spoke to a man matching the description and he said he was not twirling flaming sticks, but they were flaming balls on the end of chains..,” (emphasis added)
Oh, well then, if they were just flaming balls…
Last week, I stumbled upon a jurisdictional matter, a treat for my lawyerly mind.
“A man came to the police station to report the theft of his wallet. But the theft did not occur in Apple Valley — it happened while he was on a train in France. He said he ‘didn’t have time to report it to police while in France.’ “
As write this, I’m about to leave on vacation. My goal? Relax. Read. Sail. Bike. Canoe. Not check email. Spend time with family. And last but not least, find some good blotter items in papers along the journey. But not appear in any.