Monday, August 15, 2011

They May Be Crazy, But Their Method May Still Be Sound

So of all things, I recently read an interesting interview with the Public Information Officer for the Madison Police Department. Apparently when it's a slow day or a really interesting case comes down the pipe, Joel DeSpain writes a ripping good police incident report for it, such as this one of a possible rapture situation.

This made me instantly think of two quite divergent thoughts. The first is of a Patton Oswalt bit from his slightly over-rated Werewolves and Lollipops. He says there are certain towns like Madison or Austin that are so incredibly weird and encapsulated in their own little world that you either need to get out quite young, or never leave. Because if you try to leave as an adult, the rest of the normal world will be completely bewildering to you ("You mean I can't pay for this sandwich with a song?" "No. You literally cannot do that.").

And so it makes sense this DeSpain guy works for the Madison PD. Only in Madison do you have a couple of cops get called out to some annoying little cutesy stunt and instead of getting pissed off and angrily cleaning it up while grumbling about the God damned kids these days, they pass it along to this guy, who spins a fantastical tale of whimsy about it. I feel like this man would be beaten up in many other departments.

But the other thought was that things like this are not such a bad idea. Because really, a lot of what causes the perceived/ real (there's some significant arguments about which of those it really is) hostility, or at least distance, between the general public and the police comes down to the perception of police as dicks. And while some certinaly are, I'd argue the vast majority are not.

But I would argue the vast majority of police are pretty humorless, at least when attending to official police business. And the complete lack of humor and self-awareness, while probably aimed at being professional, certainly doesn't do anything to combat the appearance of just being jerks. Which again, I argue most police are not.

So maybe finding ways to inject some levity into the police world, as well as allow the public some glimpse into the often absurd/surreal world of policing, might break down that real (or possibly only perceived) divide.

But the fanciful NPR-oriented-humorist-style police reports? Yeah, that will probably only work in Madison...

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