My daughter Maddie is living near Lagunitas, Calif., an area of great beauty located near the amazing Point Reyes National Seashore. She's also in the area covered by the Point Reyes Light newspaper which is nationally known for its weekly Sheriff Calls report.
Apparently each little town can't afford to have its own police coverage, so the county sheriff's department travels a wide area to aid the citizens. Like so many small-town police reports, the bulk of the items aren't criminal in nature.
• Inverness: At 12:27 p.m. someone reported two black suitcases stashed in bushes in an alley.
• Woodacre: At 8:35 p.m. someone saw a black Buick circling the neighborhood.
• Chileno Valley: At 10:12 p.m. a ranch hand got a cow back into pasture.
• Nicasio: At 8:17 p.m. someone reported a man asleep under a blanket.
• Lagunitas: At 1:54 a.m. a woman reported loud banging noises coming from the deli.
• Bolinas: At 3:38 p.m. a man reported that a woman was trying to break into his tent with a hatchet.
OK, that last one leans toward the criminal side.
That last report is the sort of thing that makes the Point Reyes listing so interesting. After you read enough of them you begin to wonder about the people who live there.
• Bolinas: Someone complained about a man barbecuing on the sidewalk.
• Dillon Beach: At 4:48 p.m. someone reported that a man had been "creeping" on four high school girls and a boy.
• Muir Beach: At 1:44 p.m. a woman reported that she and her husband had returned from San Francisco to find a "disturbing" wood sculpture on their front porch.
• Marshall: At 1:14 p.m. a woman heard an unusual number of gunshots.
• San Geronimo: At 4:09 p.m. two 5-year-olds complained of burning pain after eating leafy spurge.
• Stinson Beach: At 6:52 p.m. a therapist reported that a teenage girl had said she felt like hurting someone.
• Bolinas: At 10:09 p.m. a woman called to discuss an escalating situation with a neighbor.
At this point I have to mention that the sheriff's department sends its collection of reports to the paper every week and someone on the newspaper staff goes over the list, chooses what to mention and puts it into his or her own words. Most likely the police report didn't use the words "escalating situation." Often what makes these reports interesting is the way they're written.
I read in an article that readers see the weekly report as half news/half gossip. A deputy will look at the report in the paper and think, "Hey, I was on that one. That's sort of what happened." It's the way it was phrased in the paper that makes it unique.
It makes me wonder what we're missing every week. I don't have time to visit the police station and look through the log book, if there still is such a thing. We just rely on what's sent our way. It's rather sparse and not too detailed. Maybe we have incidents such as this, and just the right people to make them happen:
• Olema: At 1:14 p.m. a man peed into a garbage can at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge. He later agreed to pay $100 in damages and assume ownership of the can.
• Woodacre: At 11:04 a.m. a woman reported that someone had broken into her chicken coop and killed two chickens and a rooster. She was sure it was a person because the stick the intruder had used to prop open the door was covered in blood (deputies believed it had been a fox or coyote).
• Bolinas: At 8:24 p.m. a property owner called to ask for advice dealing with 911 calls involving “Hubbub and Higinx.”
Many consider it a honor to make the police report and one woman reported her disappointment after a friend of hers stopped to help a woman parked by the side of the road. This is from the article I read from the Weekend America radio show:
"He gets to the window and he looks in, and she has a baby skunk in her arms, and she's nursing the baby skunk with breast milk. And he says, 'Do you need any help?' And she says 'No, I'm fine.' So he quickly turns around and runs to his truck and drives to the nearest pay phone to call the sheriff because he wants the sheriff to come see this so it'll make the Sheriff's Calls. Even though the sheriff did make a stop and make sure she was OK…and she was still nursing the skunk, it didn't make the Sheriff's Calls."
The deputy interviewed in the article said that most of the reports weren't big problems, people are just knuckleheads.
• Point Reyes Station: At 1:36 p.m. someone was concerned about a 90-year-old woman whose caregiver had been fired by a man who was worried the latter had insinuated himself into her affairs and would take advantage of the aging woman.
• Tomales: At 4:27 p.m. a caller picked up the phone to hear "Don't tell Mommy. It's OK. It's just sperm."