Friday, April 22, 2011

All the lonely people…

Many years ago during my career as a newspaper reporter, I was assigned to the night police beat in Sioux City, Iowa. During that 3 to 11 p.m. shift, I’d go down to the police station and comb through police logs for any kind of mischief people intentionally or unintentionally got themselves into.

There were the usual incidences of assault, theft, disturbance of the peace and other felonies you might expect. Occasionally among the more serious offences were humorous ones that made me chuckle and wonder.

To this day, police logs fascinate me. Like a diary of untold lives, each entry is a biography of the life and times and the Joe Shmoes and Suzy Ques caught in the act or being good neighbors by reporting their suspicions.

The most benign entries were similar to these found in a small town police log...
4:18 a.m. – RP advised his neighbors are “revving up their vehicles.”

8:05 a.m. – Reporting party (RP) advised of criminal mischief done to a planter near the playground.

Then there are the police calls that really make you wonder what people were thinking…

2:49 p.m. RP advised she was away from home and thinks she left on her car’s headlights parked by her garage. RP requesting an officer run by and check.

4:28 p.m. – RP advised there is a man that has been standing by her back gate for at least an hour. RP stated he will hop and jump around and act like he is conducting a choir. RP stated she’s not sure if he’s high on something or intoxicated. He’s wearing a green jacket, a bright yellow shirt and blue jeans and has black curly hair. RP requesting an officer.

5:46 p.m. – RP advised he wanted to give the officers a copy of an email that he received today asking him for money.

9:10 p.m. – RP advised she left her electric blanket on and she’s out of town and is requesting assistance to turn it off.

Some calls for law enforcement intervention are strictly family matters…

9:00 p.m. – RP advised she hasn’t seen or spoken to her sister all day and would like for an officer to try and find her.

11:20 p.m. – RP advised his wife was being a fool. She was intoxicated, yelling at him and telling him that he’s no good. RP requesting some assistance.

Still there are many others that come from a dark lonely place that only seeks to be seen and heard. A place that’s tired of being invisible…

9:48 a.m. – RP advised she received a letter in the mail and she would like for an officer to look at it to see if it’s a scam.

7:38 p.m. – RP advised she had observed three juveniles on skateboards go down the middle of the street. She advised one of them was on his stomach.

There were so many calls like these to the Sioux City Police that the department looked into what was driving them. Their goal was to reduce the waste of costly resources for situations that did not necessarily require police action.

What the department found was basically people are lonely and their calls for police are a coping mechanism to chase away the blues.

It’s an underwritten story of the lost and forgotten down the street or next door. If only we would reach out more often, acting as the host in our own neighborhoods. Checking in. Bringing well-wishes. Ringing the doorbell until someone emerges. Letting the phone ring until someone answers. What a difference that would make.

“All the lonely people…where do they all come from?” “Eleanor Rigby” The Beatles

2011 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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