Police reports pour into our newsroom each day, some via emails and texts, others arriving through the fax machine.
Often, the descriptions of events from police make you smile or shake your head, although the moments were no doubt very serious for the people involved.
In most cases, you hope there is more to the story than appears on the official report, just to make it worth the police officers’ time investigating.
As we bid adieu to 2013, I offer here for your enjoyment a few of the highlights — or perhaps low-lights — from nearly a year of watching police activity and thinking to myself: “This is our tax dollars at work.”
I’ve left out names and addresses. But I’ve tried to leave the absurdity and levity intact.
• Sometime between March 1 and April 14: Someone broke into a local camp. Police reported that the items that went missing included cash and “$20 worth of cigars.” Smoke ’em if you got ’em!
• On March 17: An altercation occurred between two men in their 30s. Police pointed to the younger man and said “the accused punched the victim in the face, causing the victim to suffer a cut lip. Charges will be filed ...”
• On March 19 or 20: Someone got into an unlocked car and took several items that belonged to the vehicle’s owner. Among them, police said, were a silver iPod Touch and “a bottle of American Eagle cologne.” At least this case smells nice.
• Between March 22 and 27: State police said they were contacted by a 24-year-old man who apparently could not locate his wallet. Police said the man “proceeded to explain that he was speaking to his mother about the issue and she told him to call the state police to report it as stolen.” There you have it. By the way, I seem to have misplaced $1 million in cash ...
• On March 26 (a busy month!): Two teenage boys got into a scuffle. Police reported that a 17-year-old told them that a 16-year-old (the accused) “kicked him in the calf after a verbal exchange of words. The victim suffered a bruise and swelling on his calf.” The accused was issued a non-traffic citation for harassment and was released to his parents.
• On April 1 (no fooling): Two men got into an argument over what police called “a business transaction.” The incident involved the customer “chest-bumping the victim and threatening to cause him physical harm.” At least he didn’t kick him in the calf.
• On April 7, two 76-year-old men took their dispute to police, who reported that “the accused damaged the victim’s grass and window with bee spray.” Yes, charges were filed. No word on how the bees made out.
• On May 21 or 22: Police reported that “unknown” actors “threw and smeared dog feces” on the rear window of a victim’s car, and also “keyed (scratched) the right rear passenger door.” And yes, police added the word “scratched,” presumably so uneducated journalists might understand what really happened. The feces smearing, apparently, was self-explanatory.
• Moving on to June 3: A 21-year-old man contacted police to report stolen property. Police, in turn, reported that stolen property as “$380 of U.S. currency which was located in a hot pink wallet.”
• On June 17 or 18: Police were called to a crime scene to learn that a woman, age 64, had reported that “two bras and 16 pairs of underwear” were taken from her car, which police determined “was unlocked in front of her residence.”
• On July 5: Some police departments were busy with folks still celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. In one instance, a man was charged with public drunkenness because he was “falling-down drunk,” police said, at a local swimming hole at 1:30 in the afternoon.
• Also on July 5: Police were called to a local big-box store for a report of theft. Two men, both in their late 20s, were accused of taking “into their possession $295 (worth) of razors and razor re-fill cartridges” and attempting to leave the store without paying. Police could have said this was a close shave for the retailer.
• On Aug. 2: Police responded to an altercation involving three individuals that led to charges against two men, ages 23 and 73. I’ll let you sort this one out ... “On the above date and time, an argument occurred between Victim No. 1 and Accused No. 1. Accused No. 1 hit Victim No. 1 with a stick in the leg. Accused No. 2 then jump(ed) in the middle and pushed Accused No. 1, causing Accused No. 1 to fall and hit his head on the ground. Accused No. 1 and Accused No. 2 were charged with harassment.” Just to help you keep things straight, police referred to Accused No. 1 also as “Victim No. 2.” There, now it all makes perfect sense.
• On Sept. 5 (my personal favorite): A 43-year-old man was charged with public drunkenness after, police said, “he engaged in a verbal confrontation with an ATM.” Police noted: “The ATM refused to return his bank card and he started yelling and shouting at it.” The victim was society, police said. And an unarmed bank machine.
• On Nov. 10: Police were called out because a man “reported his vehicle had been stolen.” Well, police went on to say that the man “later recalled that he had dropped it off for repairs. Case closed.” Oops.
• On Nov. 13: A 45-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct after, police said, “he blew his horn for an extended period of time while driving past the victim’s residence.” Of course, it was 7:20 in the morning.
• On Dec. 13, police got a call involving two 13-year-old girls. One of the teens was charged because of allegedly “shoving the victim’s head into a locker.” You mean that’s a crime? Used to happen to me all the time.
Well, Happy New Year’s, everybody.
Let’s all make a resolution for 2014 to stay out of the police blotter. Next year, I just might name names.
Chip Minemyer is the executive editor of the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4640. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.