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Editorial: Stranger than fiction police scanner calls

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All day long, the police scanner at the New Richmond News office talks in my ear every minute or two.

I've learned to tune it out most of the time, unless I hear about a nearby fire or accident that might lend itself to a photograph for the newspaper.

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The scanner traffic most often is a depressing litany of negative stuff.

The medical examiner is called out to the scene of a death. Police are dispatched to the scene of a domestic abuse situation, where a woman has been beaten by her boyfriend. Deputies pull over an erratic driver and tickets him for drunk driving.

And then there are occasionally calls that defy description. Many times they provide a little laugh during a busy day. The mental picture you end up drawing in your mind to imagine the scene can be humorous.

Then you also wonder what happened in those situations following the initial call for help.

Here are a few examples of recent dispatches on the St. Croix County system:

  • One of the most unusual reports I've heard over the police radio came this past summer. The dispatcher said someone had called to report a stolen breast pump, "and the suspect refuses to return it." That was a tough story to mentally fill in the blanks without more information.
  • A local business owner recently called authorities to complain about his former partner who was apparently upset that their partnership had ended. The owner claimed a stump grinder was stolen out of frustration.
  • Another theft reported to dispatchers was that of a vacuum. No mention if the vacuum was ever recovered, but if the household had any kids around they might have hidden it to get out of the weekly chores.
  • Yet another theft report came from someone saying that one of their bushes had been stolen. Landscaping may be one of the tougher things to steal, but criminals apparently are willing to work hard if they see something they want.
  • State troopers stopped a semi-truck along Interstate 94 that had a broken gas nozzle stuck in his gas tank. I'd heard of things like this before and even saw a YouTube video of a similar situation some months ago.
  • An area fire department was called to a fire involving a mattress in the ditch along a local road. How did the mattress get there in the first place, but more importantly how did it catch fire?
  • Animals make for interesting dispatch calls. Someone recent complained that they were "being pursued by a blonde pig." I wondered if I'd heard it right, but apparently I had. Again, I couldn't quite picture the circumstances surrounding the situation, but it gave me a bit of a laugh.
  • Dispatchers received a recent complaint about a piano in the roadway. How did the piano get there and why hadn't someone returned to pick it up? It's anybody's guess.

    I'm sure law enforcement personnel have a long list of situations that they've had to deal with. Just a few weeks of scanner traffic shows that there's never a loss of perplexing situations that people find themselves in.

    I suppose those odd moments give our public servants a chuckle from time to time as well. Those lighter moments could be what gets them through those tough times when they deal with tragedy and violence.

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