You may have noticed a change in the content of our Page 2 “Dispatch Log” report over the past several weeks.
For months we dutifully reported the arrests by the Scotts Valley Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in our area.
This provided a wide array of citizens of all ages arrested on mostly drug and alcohol charges, with an occasional burglary, assault or car theft. We did not report names of suspects or victims, and did not report specific addresses.
This began long before I became your editor six months ago. As it was copied from actual police logs, the weekly report was accurate, but did not tell “the rest of the story.”
The report did not give an accurate picture of crime in our communities, nor, perhaps more importantly, it did not give an accurate picture of the wide range of incidents our police officers and deputies encounter every day or the wide range of services they perform.
So we changed it. We now report, for the most part, what the officers write in their reports at the end of their day.
We can see all the complaints of theft, larceny, fraud, assault, domestic violence, noisy neighbors, drugs, vandalism, trespassing and more -- all those incidents that our officers and deputies spend their days tracking down which more often than not result in reports, not arrests.
We get a more complete picture of the lawlessness, craziness and thoughtlessness that they encounter every day.
We also see glimpses of the care, understanding, humanity and patience required of them on each call.
What we don’t see is the potential danger that lurks in so many of these encounters.
As we look around the country at the senseless killings of police officers -- or their suspects -- most arise out of the most ordinary circumstances: domestic disputes, traffic stops, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness. Yet in each instance, something unforeseen occurs, some switch gets flipped, something snaps, which causes instant tragedy.
This uncertainty, this dread of what could happen, is what our officers and their families live with every day. Their training prepares them for what might never happen. But it doesn’t protect them.
So perhaps you will read our ‘Dispatch Log’ a little differently, as a window to a world in which these officers and deputies work.
And if you get the chance, thank them for all they do.