"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."
February 28, 2012 8:57 PM   Subscribe

In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) posted by zarq (19 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
The Isthmus article notes that:
"This isn't the first time the art of the police blotter has been celebrated.... twitterer @neofeneon remixes NYPD blotter entries into sometimes funny, often mournful poems of 140 characters or less."
There is also a fan page on Facebook devoted to the MPD blotter, which has closed membership.
posted by zarq at 8:58 PM on February 28, 2012

Stay weird, Madison!
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:12 PM on February 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

You can't leave out the original online crazy police blotter: Arcata, CA. I dimly recall reading this right out of college, so Arcata has been at it for at least a decade.
Monday, January 2 8:56 p.m. A skateboarder equipped with a headlight and taillight only made himself more visible to a predatory motorist trying to run him off the road near Stromberg Avenue.

10:10 p.m. $100 cash left in an oxymoronically unlocked locker at a health club was sticky-fingered.

10:27 p.m.
There’s a car in a trailer park
And it swerves, driving in the dark
The lonely driver passes night away
Cruising past mobile homes

The caller said Brandy,
You’re no fine girl
Drawing neighbors to the street
With your tires, you’re making them squeal, also screech

Brandy drives an SUV
Made of finest steel, painted green
Like a rocket, but with Oregon plates
Blazing past mobile homes

The caller said Brandy’s
a DUI girl
In her big-time SUV
But my night, my home and my craving is for sleep
etc., etc., etc.
posted by introp at 9:26 PM on February 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

These police reports display a real mastery of short-form writing. Just great writing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:27 PM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Similar stuff can be found around the net under the rubric used by the New Yorker for this type of its filler items for decades: Constabulary Notes from All Over.
posted by dhartung at 9:50 PM on February 28, 2012

These are wonderful.
posted by latkes at 10:08 PM on February 28, 2012

Just great writing.

I agree and also find their seeming lack of sophistication so charming. There's something wonderfully amateur about them, although clearly they are not produced by an amateur.

They remind me also of the fait divers that are coming back into fashion thanks to Teju Cole.
posted by latkes at 10:12 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best of the web everything.

Annie the Ball Python is classic.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:11 AM on February 29, 2012

These are lovely, thank you so much for sharing them Zarq.
posted by smoke at 2:12 AM on February 29, 2012

This guys got A LOT of DeSpaining to do ahahahaahahHAOHOHOOHOHOOOheeheehee its really early
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:12 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are excellent, thanks zarq.
posted by arcticseal at 6:26 AM on February 29, 2012

This is great! I loved the situation where they made a 103 year old lady soup and followed up with her care providers.
posted by Kimberly at 6:56 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

smoke, arcticseal, you're very welcome! :)
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on February 29, 2012

The one about making the old lady a hot meal made me tear up. It's an amazing contrast to what one usually reads here.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:11 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

From dhartung's "Constabulary Notes" link.


From the Bath (Maine) Times Record.

Except for a tragic accident, the 35th annual Bath Heritage Days parade went off without a hitch.

LOL. I swear I've seen a headline like this in my local paper. But this doesn't surprise me. I once wrote them a Letter to the Editor informing them that the Blue Star LSD tattoo story they ran on the front page was an urban legend.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:31 PM on February 29, 2012

These reports do well to reflect how Madison is, in fact, a very odd place to reside.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:35 PM on February 29, 2012

Maybe a UW Madison alum can chime in, but didn't the original Onion student newspaper run a "Who Got Busted" column? I remember seeing something in there the couple of times I got a copy second-hand.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:14 PM on February 29, 2012

Here are some random Police Beat incidents from my book (1994), including "the police chief was attacked repeatedly by a wild turkey." All true. [self-link, obviously, but definitely on the subject]

Kevin Hoover, the Police Log guy in Arcata, is the acknowledged national champ at this sort of thing. He and I traded books through the mail six or seven years ago.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:20 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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