American newspaper police blotter reports

Straight reporting to interactive maps to the surreal.


In today's feature story, I make reference to American newspapers and their reporting on the police blotters. Here are three examples.

Some papers do a simple straight-forward listing, no bells or whistles. These are from the Ashland, Oregon Daily Tidings:

Wednesday, 2:04 a.m. — Possible suicidal person reported, 2900 block of Grizzly Drive.

Tuesday, 10:06 p.m. — 30-year-old man cited for having an open container of alcohol in public, E. Main and S. Second streets.

Tuesday, 9:10 p.m. — 25-year-old man cited for having an open container of alcohol in public, E. Main and S. Pioneer streets.

Tuesday, 6:14 p.m. — 17-year-old girl reported as a runaway. She was located and returned home, 2000 block of Mae Street.

Tuesday, 5:12 p.m. — 34-year-old man cited for having an open container of alcohol in public near the railroad tracks at Water Street.

Tuesday, 1:50 p.m. — Vandalism reorted near the 400 block of Strawberry Lane.

Tuesday, 10:31 p.m. — 42-year-old man cited for trespassing, 700 block of N. Main Street.

Tuesday, 9:42 a.m. — 20-year-old man arrested on a Medford Municipal Court warrant, 1600 block of Ashland Street.

Other papers have taken the police blotter and run it through sophisticated interactive mapping features. Here's an example of a mapping of police calls in Norfolk, Virginian, developed by the Virginian Pilot: Click through the link to see how you can get details on each call.

But there's no limit to the creativity that goes into the reporting of police calls. The Arcata (California) Eye takes the blotter to an often-surreal level, which in my opinion actually makes the reporting that much more interesting to the reader:
• Monday, August 15 9:54 p.m. Car window smash-and-grab of a “piece of equipment” on the Plaza’s south side. As should be obvious by now, heroin is not hard to find in Arcata.

• Wednesday, August 17 10:08 a.m. A man said that while he was out of town, his tenant/roommate drank some $350 worth of his alcohol, with numerous empty bottles left the tale to tell.

1:33 p.m. A long-haired man in tie-dye apparel made a scene when he was not allowed to open an account at a Plaza bank. On stalking off from the scene, he dropped a baggie of white powder.

2:39 p.m. A Blake Court resident reported that a buck trapped in her backyard was becoming “quite frustrated.” It may have been slightly humiliated as well, as another deer outside the fence observed the buck’s failed efforts to escape. Eventually it did, gathering up what was left of its dignity and prancing on.

2:50 p.m. A youth reported being offended by a man holding a sign at Sixth and F streets which read, “The cops arrested my hoes.”

6:49 p.m. While details of an encounter are in dispute, it was generally agreed that in principle, she shouldn’t throw bottles at anyone.

10:55 p.m. Perhaps it’s the new uniform for they who stand in intersections (in this case, 11th and F streets) and howl at passersby – socks and underwear.

1:35 p.m. A bald, stocky man keeps asking a woman out even though she tells him she has a boyfriend and isn’t interested in him.

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