Why Do They Call It A Blotter?
February 19, 2009 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Is the police blotter dying? Not so. In other parts of the world, the blotters are a little weird and violent. (nsfw)
posted by Xurando (36 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
But you missed the best police blotter of all: The Arcata Eye. Pure poetry.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:25 AM on February 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

I really love police blotters. At my previous job, I scanned the blotter every week for interesting entries to send to my co-workers; everybody seemed to think it was a good way to waste an afternoon. This is one of my favorites; it's not from that era, but is a reminder that sometimes, the most deadpan entries are the best.
12:38 a.m.--HUPD and Cambridge rescue units respond to an out-of-control "Duck, Duck, Goose" game in Winthrop House. One student was knocked unconscious.

posted by uncleozzy at 5:35 AM on February 19, 2009 [5 favorites]

In re: the title

I always imagined that "blotter" was just an older term for "entry book" or "front desk scratch pad" from the days when you needed to blot your fountain pen. But this gives me the alternate idea that maybe it's just a list of blots, i.e. messes or crimes they've had to investigate. I'm still guessing the former, though.
posted by DU at 5:44 AM on February 19, 2009

The Boston police have gone and put their police log up online but it's more of a "Best Of" collection than a full-on blotter with minutiae and everything. I think it's the little entries that make a police blotter good reading.

My favorite police log entry of all time came from a small town in Franklin County, Mass. The newspaper clipping was up on my fridge for many years:
9:17 am. Police responded to a sighting of a cat walking down Main Street with a dog food can on its head. Cat was gone when police arrived.
posted by Spatch at 6:14 AM on February 19, 2009

Re the Arcata Eye; from their website:
Opinions expressed in columns, cartoons and Letters to the Editor do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Arcata Eye. Submissions are welcome, may be reluctantly edited for length, or, if extraordinarily long, boring, incoherent or editing-intensive, tossed.
I like this paper.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:16 AM on February 19, 2009

NPR had a piece in June of 2007 about the police blotter in Espanola, New Mexico. I thought I'd enjoy it, because Espanola has a ....style.... all its own, but it made me kind of sad. There are a lot of people out there with really hard lives.
posted by Killick at 6:18 AM on February 19, 2009

We've got a weekly tabloid that has nothing but mug shots and blotters: The Slammer.
posted by NoMich at 6:19 AM on February 19, 2009

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man from Kampong Speu province for allegedly raping and slaying 31-year-old Say Aun in November last year. Korm Choy, who escaped three days after the murder, said the victim was in love with him and he killed her over fears she would force him to marry her.
posted by delmoi at 6:25 AM on February 19, 2009

The Arcata Eye is funny but kind of self-consciously so. The one I can never fathom is the Amherst Bee (second link in "Not so" in the FPP). What is going on there? It's like some kind of surreal food-themed horror movie. Is it for real?

Hot chocolate was thrown on a van on Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

A thin man peeked in windows of a Kensington Avenue restaurant then opened the door and screamed inside.

An 18-year-old son hosed down his mother with apple juice and cola on Cresthaven Drive.

Three men were reported throwing Jell-O at windows of homes on Harlem Road.

A bag of bones was found on Harlem Road.

posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:34 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Liyu & Liubo photographs in the second link are fantastic!
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 6:42 AM on February 19, 2009

My small town local paper still publishes the police blotter. A lot of it is public shaming, which I don't agree with, however it does publish all reports of domestic violence (with no personal names, just street names) which emphasizes how much domestic violence there is out there.
posted by saucysault at 6:46 AM on February 19, 2009

The Rio blotter is horrifying. Police-run child prostitution rings assassinating witnesses, the "Highlander Death Squad" a group of corrupt police that behead their victims (with photos). Journalist exposing police corruption gunned down in the streets. Businessmen being shaken down by police and threatened with arrest for pedophilia.

It's like every corrupt cop TV plot has come to life in Rio.
posted by mecran01 at 6:48 AM on February 19, 2009

So the police report their own crimes in Rio? That must be handy.
posted by DU at 6:51 AM on February 19, 2009

We used to have a local free paper called The Snitch, which focused on nothing but crime in the area. Their most popular feature was the police blotter, which was conveniently broken down by ZIP code every week. They even ran the numbers for you, detailing which ZIP codes had the most of certain types of crimes ("Most B&E - ZIP 12345, 16 reports; Most shoplifting - ZIP 67890, 31 reports", that sort of thing).

The best part of their police blotter was, like the Arcata Eye, the editorial commentary. Initally the bulk of the commentary was professional and restrained, but one summer our town went through a rash of thefts that occured due to the sheer idiocy of the victims. For about ten weeks in a row, The Snitch police blotter would list at least one report where someone had pulled up to a gas station, left the car running, filled up his tank, then ran inside to pay while the car was still running--and come back to discover that someone had jumped in the car and taken off with it. By week four, it was clear that the editorial staff at The Snitch was getting frustrated that their warnings were being ignored, and began to snark hard everytime they reported one of those incidents. After that, the gloves came off, and they began to be the Arcata Eye's equal.

The Snitch had a nice growth spurt for a while, expanding into other cities, but then the owners fell out over some sort of money issue, and the paper shut down. A shame, really, because in addition to the blotter The Snitch published some outstanding articles on crime of all varieties (ranging from domestic crime to internet scams), legal issues such as crime bills proposed in the state legislature, and problems faced by both victims and the accused. I remember especially enjoying a regular column by a man who'd served a couple of decades for armed robbery, talking about life in and after prison.

I wish The Snitch could come back to life--they had a bigger readership than the local alternative paper, and about half that of the local MSM paper. They filled a need that neither addresses even now, and their audience certainly responded.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:59 AM on February 19, 2009

The one for my neighborhood is definitely written by someone with a sense of humor. We get headlines like "Intoxicated Man Demands Ride From Police…Wish Is Granted" and "Sausage Craving Leads to Robbery" and "Two Arrested for Showing No Class at Boston Harbor Hotel." Of course, it's a blog now instead of in the paper.
posted by marginaliana at 7:01 AM on February 19, 2009

Moab Utah used to have a good police blotter, the writer always had a good sense of humour. He retired from the force and unfortunately, at least at that time, nobody took up the task of updating it.
posted by substrate at 7:16 AM on February 19, 2009

i have to love this one arcata eye entry -

9:59 a.m. A sick fox at Beverly Drive and Buttermilk Lane was cordially blasted into the afterlife.
posted by pyramid termite at 7:27 AM on February 19, 2009

daily sarasota county arrests
posted by robbyrobs at 7:43 AM on February 19, 2009

Baltimore, for all its faults, has excellent crime reporting (probably due to abundant material).

The Baltimore Sun's Blotter is best read in conjunction with the Baltimore Crime Blog, the Baltimore City Paper's Murder Ink column (which is also performed annually on stage) and also the Mobtown Beat column.

Crime Baltimore does a pretty decent job of visually representing exactly why living in Charm City makes me blue.
posted by charmcityblues at 8:17 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Crime Baltimore does a pretty decent job of visually representing exactly why living in Charm City makes me blue.

Is it an STD?
posted by inigo2 at 8:23 AM on February 19, 2009

Dear SteveInMaine, you don't have to go all the way across the country for police excitement. We have crime up in Bar Harbor as well.

This one never fails to amuse: “Responding to a report of fighting at a Town Hill residence, the police chief was attacked repeatedly by a wild turkey. According to the chief, the bird made several charges, and pecked him on the foot and leg. The chief was able to ward off his attacker with a ‘swift kick.’ Neither the chief nor the bird sustained serious injury. ‘The last time we went there,’ said one officer, ‘they opened the front door and a goat came out after us.’”

About 15 years ago I collected several thousand such items into a book... which, if I was one of those people into favoriting themselves, would be my favorite book on the subject. (The Arcata Eye guy really is great at this, too, as you say; when his first book came out we swapped copies of our respective opuses.)
posted by LeLiLo at 8:24 AM on February 19, 2009

My favorite police blotter of all time, don't remember it verbatim, but it was in the Mercer Island Reporter, circa 1989. "Police were tipped off to the location of the party when they discovered a flier announcing the time and place of the event. The flier also suggested where revelers might park so as to not tip off the police where the party was being held".

MY flier.
posted by vito90 at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2009

One of my favorites, Small Town Misfit, seems to be missing from this thread. Forgive me if I overlooked it.
posted by Xoebe at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2009

Makes me want to be a cop.
posted by buzzdiggity at 9:12 AM on February 19, 2009

Arcata sounds like a pretty interesting place, thjough...

• Monday, January 19 5:49 a.m. The week’s howling psycho quota was fulfilled bright ’n’ early at a Sunny Brae coffee house. The beanbag shotgun had a pacifying effect, and Mr. Shrieky was considerably more placid and could even be detained without handcuffs.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2009

Here's a new twist - new to me anyway. The Petaluma Argus-Courier has posted a Google Map detailing crimes committed in Petaluma, with locations marked and details available!
posted by Lynsey at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2009

Also, the weekly Point Reyes Light has been publishing Sheriff's Calls as long as we've been reading it, over 20 years now. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes horrific, but always newsworthy to those who live in the West Marin area.
posted by Lynsey at 10:21 AM on February 19, 2009

When I lived in a small town, the weekly printing of the police blotter in the local paper was one of the highlights. A co-worker and I used to rush out to get the paper every Wednesday afternoon just for that.

There were always a few amusing entries. The one that will always stand out in my mind is the police responding to a report of vandalism - it went something like:

Apr 9, 7:30 am. Responded to complaint of vandalism. Complainant's truck had been smeared with mustard during the night. Unclear if other damage had occurred to the vehicle due to presence of mustard on windshield and body. Statement taken.

Then, one week, the son of a colleague was arrested (not for the mustard, though - I don't think that ever got solved). It wasn't quite so amusing anymore.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2009

Always enjoyed reading these, though never knew they were called blotters. It was referred to "The Police Beat" in my town's newspaper.

I had written some imaginary versions of my own set in a mythical town a while back. It was a lot of fun and I'd encourage writers to try it as a literary device. there is just so much possibility.
posted by troubles at 11:08 AM on February 19, 2009

www.photobang.cn/works2007_cn.htm = very cool.
posted by jcruelty at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2009

When I first went to college after graduating high school, I learned my academic advisor read the police blotter. When I went to see him one day (to get a drop slip signed of course) he mentioned he had seen my name in the paper.
posted by marxchivist at 12:04 PM on February 19, 2009

Also come to praise Li Yu and Liu Bo - seen some of their work before but not these. Something about the atmosphere they create is spot on.
posted by Abiezer at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2009

I never read the police blotter in my previous hometown, which alone was as big as the hometown newspaper of smaller metropolitan areas every single day. Plus, it was too gruesome. Nowadays, I live in a teeny-tiny little southern town, where the police blotter is only published twice a week and includes such gems as:

"Break-in reported on ___ Greensboro Street. $ 10,000 worth of stolen property. Missing items include a pump action rifle, $ 5000 in cash and a gold and diamond adorned dental grill"

I love that.
posted by msali at 1:19 PM on February 19, 2009

I also wonder about the Bee, game warden. Some of the entries are too awesome to be credible.
A person reported that there were to many males pushing a shopping cart and possibly drinking a beer while traveling north on Military Road.
A motorist burned his jeans after being pulled over by police. He panicked while
smoking a marijuana joint and stuffed it in his pocket.
Police charged a Hamburg woman with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving,
leaving the scene of a personal injury auto accident, open container of alcohol and
imprudent speed on Southwestern Boulevard. Officers said she was on her way to work.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:56 PM on February 19, 2009

My favorite police log entry of all time came from a small town in Franklin County, Mass.

An old man from rural Tennessee told me once that his favorite Police Beat item of all time came from his home town: "Court will not be in session this week because the judge was bitten by a hog."
posted by LeLiLo at 5:31 PM on February 19, 2009

« Older Taking "the road less traveled" in treating ADHD   |   You Say You Want a Revolution Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments