Ripped from the headlines

foodtruckLocal newspapers often include brief sections on police and fire reports, I’m guessing, for two reasons. One is to explain why you heard sirens a couple of nights ago, and the other is to reassure you that your tax dollars are being spent wisely.

It’s not likely that any of these items will appear as plot lines on a TV crime drama any time soon. Famous novelists are not battling for the rights to these stories. But maybe that’s because they can’t figure out what really happened.

The police reports are allotted too little space for detail. Still, many leave you with unanswered questions. These reports are real, but the questions are hypothetical:

  • A 51-year-old woman complained of pain after a collision with an SUV, which turned into a restaurant.

Question: Like a transformer, the SUV pulled over, collapsed its tires, lifted a side window, and started selling tacos? I didn’t see that on the 11 o’clock news.

Better: .… collision with an SUV, which pulled into a parking lot.

  • One person was taken to the hospital in a two-car pile-up.

Question: They transported the victim to the hospital in the wreckage? Why didn’t someone call an ambulance?

Better: …. after a two-car pile-up.

Unclear antecedents are common, and the question is “Who did what here?”

  • A resident reported an unwanted hug from a staff member, which was reported to police by his father.

Question: Was the father reporting the hug or was he reporting the report? And whose father is he—the resident’s or the staff member’s?

Better: A resident received an unwanted hug from a staff member. The resident’s father reported the incident.

The final item on this police blotter:

  • Described by a witness entering a car “blistering drunk,” police arrested a 53-year-old
    man for suspicion of DUI.

So many questions: Why was the witness entering the car? If the witness was drunk, why do we care how he described the police? Where does “blistering” fall on the scale of blood alcohol levels? And why was the man arrested for being suspicious? It doesn’t say he was arrested on suspicion … just for it.

This one actually has possibilities. A creative writer could construct an entire Dateline episode around it. I’m guessing that blistering is a blood alcohol level of about 0.16, just between blitzed and hammered. Worse than schnockered but not as bad as wasted.

Medical terms are always confusing.

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