Typesetting Hubbard County Incidents, based on the sheriff’s office dispatch blotter, has been a regular part of my job for a couple years.
It’s sometimes a tedious chore. Catching up after falling a couple weeks behind can become physically arduous. But sometimes, it’s actually fun.
In 2020, I started collecting “fun incidents” that made it into Incidents. Here are just a few examples of how calls to county law enforcement can be weird and sometimes funny.
Animals: Callers reported two donkeys walking down the road; a goat wearing a collar that got into the garage; a skunk with a jar stuck on its head; an alpaca going back and forth across the road; a pig running up the driveway; a loose Chiweenie wearing a diaper; and a pelican that didn’t look quite right.
Miscellaneous: A dog licked a phone and it called 911; A suspicious male was seen wearing a purple wizard suit, hat and staff; A naked man ran through a caller’s yard; A caller heard loud pops at night and found burn marks on her driveway in the morning; A caller’s wristwatch accidentally dialed 911; A suspicious person was seen walking along the road in a clown costume; A caller insisted he was not intoxicated before reporting a multicolored object hovering and shining a light at the ground.
Traffic: A microwave oven was reported floating in a boating channel; A driver eating a Blizzard was swerving all over the road; Someone was changing a tire in the middle of an intersection while four people stood around with cell phone lights; A cyclist complained about the snow making things slippery at 4 a.m.
I’ve learned a lot while typing the Incidents. I keep a glossary of the jargon and abbreviations I’ve come across, and it currently fills 10 typewritten pages. A lot of the incidents provide a glimpse of people having a very bad day, and these fill me with concern and sympathy.
But there are also a number of items that fuel my fantasy of turning Hubbard County Incidents into an advice column, like “Dear Abby” or “Miss Manners.”
Here are a few questions that, based on recent incidents, cry out for an answer.
Dear Hubbard County Incidents: There sure are a lot of 911 hang-ups and open-line calls, most turning out to be dialed by accident. What can we do about this? Signed, Unlisted.
Dear Un: Clearly, it’s too easy to dial 911 without meaning to. Some folks might want to update the settings on their touch-screen devices.
Bear in mind that dispatch needs to take every 911 call seriously, in case the caller is in a situation that prevents asking for help. If no one says anything, or the caller hangs up, they may have to follow up just to be sure.
So, if you misdial 911, stay on the line and explain your mistake to the operator. Ignore the impulse to hang up and not answer when called back. A little embarrassment is worth it when it helps emergency personnel decide whether they need to respond. It could even save lives.
Dear Hubbard County Incidents: I noticed a series of lift assists requested in the same area, possibly for the same person, who either kept falling down or needed help standing up. What could help this issue? Sincerely, Up and Down.
Dear Up: Needing this kind of aid, especially more than once, may be a sign that it’s time for a change – like adding a live-in aide, special equipment or an exercise routine. Consulting a doctor would be a good first step.
Connie Carmichael, executive director of Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area (LAH), said anyone with a persistent falling issue may need to be medically evaluated to determine the underlying cause.
“Living at Home is not a crisis organization,” Carmichael said, “but for general aging-in-place services, LAH may have services and resources to help.”
While LAH staff and volunteers are not medically trained professionals, she said, they are happy to talk with seniors (age 65+) about whether their programs and services will meet their needs.
“We also try to keep up to date with our local community’s resources,” she said. “If we can’t help with a particular need, perhaps there would be another local resource that can.”
Dear Hubbard County Incidents: What’s with all the parents reneging on custody agreements and people needing a deputy to help them retrieve stuff from their exes’ homes? Yours, Everybody.
Dear Ev: Sorry, relationships are complicated. If we could solve everybody’s problems, there would be no divorced couples, personal property thrown out on the lawn or kids being pulled both ways. That would be nice, though, for sure.
If it was within the power of a dispatch blotter to offer romantic tips, we might say that nothing is more romantic than putting other people’s feelings before your own. Our next-best advice is to think about how your business is going to look in Hubbard County Incidents.