My grandpa used to have a police scanner. I don’t know why he kept it, but it’s tied as closely to my memories of him as his racy forearm tattoo, his cigarettes, and his mashed-potato pancakes. The scanner would sit beside his recliner (and horse-head ashtray) and was always on, a little red light running from LED to LED. Usually communications came over it in short little blips. A quick word or two that I could barely catch, all in cop/dispatcher speak.*
Not much ever happened. Nothing exciting. No murders, no car chases. Oh, I’m sure they happened at some point in that little town, but not while I was at my grandpa’s. Yet even the little things were often worth listening to, and there were often real gems.
I find the same thing in local police blotters. Writers who are looking for strange quirks and funny little incidents really don’t have to go much further for inspiration. Of course, the contents of the blotter also give a pretty good look at the sort of town or city it is.
These come from the local blotter in a nearby city. My husband and I lived there when we were first married. Rents were high, and crime was… Well, you can see for yourself with a few excerpts:
6/10/10 10:30 a.m. An unattended car with the motor running was stolen, but it was later found at a nearby school. Personal items were intact, but the emergency brake was not working.
6/7/10 10:07 a.m. A woman is concerned about a rotting tree falling in her yard, even though she was warned by an arborist to stay away from the area. She is hoping to deal with the property owner if he ever shows up.
6/7/10 2:41 p.m. A truck driver is irritating a resident by using the reporting person’s hose to fill his backpack tank without permission.
6/7/10 4:20 p.m. While attempting to use the crosswalk at 5th Street and A Avenue, a man was drooling, staggering and having a hard time staying upright.
6/7/10 4:31 p.m. Two drunks walking down 5th Street managed to stay upright by holding each other up.
6/8/10 12:46 p.m. A Dodge with a trailer was taking up four parking spaces at Wizer’s Foods.
6/8/10 2:54 p.m. A father who has been repeatedly texting and calling his 3-year-old daughter has been told to knock it off.
6/9/10 9:30 a.m. A road hazard is being created at the intersection of Jean Road and Pilkington Road by drivers stopping to buy vegetables from a street vendor.
6/9/10 12:15 p.m. A suspicious person set up a fruit and vegetable stand without attaining a business license. There has been a series of such cases.
6/12/10 3:02 p.m. Yelling, swearing and slamming was heard at a residence. But the wife was home alone and the husband was at a barbecue.
6/13/10 12:22 p.m. While trying to turn around on a driveway on Hemlock Street a driver smashed into a brick wall. This is not the first time this has happened.
6/13/10 6:52 p.m. A strange, babbling man came to a woman’s door on Deerbrush Avenue. She later found a note on her car outside from somebody who said he likes her.
6/14/10 8:48 a.m. Six peacocks were blocking traffic on Boones Ferry.
6/14/10 12:25 p.m. A man is bugged by a neighbor who keeps coming into his yard to retrieve lost balls.
6/14/10 5:31 p.m. Several subjects in a hippie van pulled up and attempted to sell crack to some college-aged kids.
6/14/10 9:55 p.m. A 12-year-old boy was offered a beer by some wild teens having a party next door.
You just can’t make this stuff up. But what also surprises me is why someone bothers to call this stuff in.
*Sorry, I’m waxing nostalgic. I have a family reunion tomorrow night (without my grandpa.) And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the reunion ends up being mentioned on some police blotter, too.