A Small Town Sheriff’s Log and a Big City Crime Report

By Jack Limpert

From a blog by Jack Limpert – Editor of the Washingtonian for more than 40 years

The Silver State Post in the Montana town of Deer Lodge (population 3,111) publishes a weekly Sheriff’s Log. A few years ago, Larry Van Dyne, a Washingtonian writer, saw the paper in his travels out west and brought back the Sheriff’s Log. Here was one day in Deer Lodge:

Friday – July 31
0037 – A man reported a possible fight.
0302 – A lady reported a dog should be barking too loud.
0344 – A man reported a suspicious person was out side his house.
0411 – A lady requested an officer to unlock her vehicle.
0806 – A lady reported someone knocked over her garbage can.
0921 – A lady reported someone watering on the wrong day.
1249 – A man reported a theft.
1338 – A lady reported that her dog was missing.
1431- A lady requested an ambulance.
1500 – A lady reported a party was going on.
1554 – A lady requested a welfare check.
1659 – A man requested an officer to unlock his vehicle.
1732 – A lady reported a disturbance.
1856 – A lady reported kids were running around and yelling.
1947 – A lady reported someone’s car horn was stuck.
2159 – An officer reported a premises was not secured.
2236 – A man requested a welfare check.

The rest of the week was much the same.
0045 – A lady reported loud music was keeping her awake.
0743 – A lady reported a dog was in her yard and would not leave.
1221 – A lady reported her car had been egged and milked.
0223 – A lady reported a party was going on.
1123 – A lady reported a lady was walking down the middle of the road.
1122 – A man reported cows were loose.
1332 – A man reported a dog was chasing his horses.
1643 – A lady reported a dog was chasing her.
0914 – A man reported a pet was out of its cage.

I emailed Michael Stafford, news editor of the Silver State Post, about the Sheriff’s Log. He emailed back, “Yes, we do still run the Sheriff’s Log, however it has changed since 1998. The information we now get is pretty basic and does not have much narrative, which is unfortunate as I know readers do enjoy a little more content to the different incidents, especially the wacky ones.”
How do calls to the sheriff in Deer Lodge compare to crime in a big city? The Washington Post publishes a crime report for each city in its circulation area and here’s this week’s report for Bethesda, a Maryland city  of 63,374 residents adjacent to Washington, D.C.

Two reports of a peeping tom, six assaults, two robberies, one report of a weapon, and 35 thefts/break-ins. Many of the thefts were from cars. A shopping center reported five instances of shoplifting. Some examples:

Nicholson Lane, 5800 block, 2:46 p.m. Feb. 25. Peeping Tom reported.
Moorland Lane, 5100 block, 11:09 a.m. March 1. Theft (Over $200.)
Whittier Blvd.,  7100 block, 3:59 p.m. Feb. 27. Simple assault.

No narrative in those crime reports.

The Post also has a weekly “Animal Watch,” and it has more of a small-town feel. This week it reported that a German shepherd bit a woman on the elbow and hip. “She suffered minor injuries and the dog was placed under a 10-day home quarantine. If the woman files an affidavit, citations will be issued to the dog owner for ‘at large’ and ‘unwanted contact.’”

Animal Services also received a report “of a poodle in a back yard without shelter, food, or water. An officer responded but did not see a dog in the yard. The dog owner’s son showed the officer that the dog was inside. He said he let the dog outside to relieve itself and to exercise but never left it unattended. The officer reported the findings to the caller.”

Last week’s “Animal Watch” reported, “An anonymous caller said several goats were being kept without shelter, food, or water. Animal Services found that the goats were receiving proper care.” And this one: “A Boston terrier got stuck outside a house after the pet door jammed. Animal services fixed the door. No citation was issued.”

Pretty good animal stories, but nothing as good as that call to the sheriff in Deer Lodge: “A lady reported a dog should be barking too loud.” Another Washingtonian writer, Howard Means, says her call sounds less a complaint and more a statement of principle from a lady who majored in philosophy in college.