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The Story You Are About To Read Is True

May 16, 2008
This is National Police Week. I would, therefore, like to dedicate today's column to my second favorite police official of all time.

His name is Paul Arnett, and he is Rock Hill's chief of police. But that's not why I admire him. I admire him for the outstanding Rock Hill crime reports he writes for this newspaper.

Nothing against our area's other crime report writers. But they could learn a thing or two from Chief Arnett.

Consider his recent account of a police raid at an unsupervised teenage party. I'm talking about the one where the officers – and I quote – scared "the bejesus out of the unsuspecting teens" before contacting their parents.

Now is that swell writing, or what?

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. That particular item has since received an honor most crime report writers only dream about: it was featured in the "Small Town News" segment of the David Letterman Show.

Now, you might say crime isn't funny. Well, no, it's not. But the truth frequently is. And what I like about Chief Arnett's reports is that they tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help him God.

Take this line from an item that appeared last week:

"Officers responded to a disturbance…between two women, one of which was reported armed with a power saw."

Yes, this is serious stuff. I mean, if I came upon a woman brandishing a power saw, it would scare the bejesus out of me. But you have to admit: it makes you want to read on.

Many Rock Hill crime reports, in fact, leave you wanting more.

Just last week, for example, there was a report of children causing property damage. Upon investigation, according to Chief Arnett, police learned "the complaint was unfounded, and the kids were just playing in a portable toilet for unknown reasons."

Far be it for me to accuse anyone of shoddy police work. But I think we all know why these kids were playing in the toilet: because it was there.

More important questions go unanswered. I mean, how exactly does one "play" in a portable toilet? Did the children wash their hands afterwards? How close was this to suppertime? As a concerned citizen, that's what I really want to know.

My point is, writing a good crime report is hard. Almost as hard as doing police work. And Chief Arnett appears to have mastered both.

Or, to paraphrase my all-time favorite police official, Sgt. Joe Friday of TV's "Dragnet:" "There are a hundred men and women in this city who know that being a policeman is an endless, glamorless, thankless job that's gotta be done."

Let's be glad at least one of them hasn't lost his sense of humor while doing it.

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