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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Odd Police Report

I read this yesterday, but I was waiting to see how the Madison papers reported on it before I commented. I didn't see anything in the WSJ or the Cap Times, so I'll forge on with out them. This is an "Incident Report" that popped up on the City of Madison website yesterday. Anything seem odd about it to you?
On December 29th, 2008, Madison Police Officers were dispatched to the 2500 block of Hwy 12 (west bound lanes) reference a male subject dangling from the overpass above Gammon Road. This call was dispatched at approximately 1:01AM, and there were numerous concerned citizens that contacted the 911 Center to report this alarming event. Police Officers immediately closed down portions of Gammon Road, and attempted to secure a safe area on Hwy 12 (Beltline Hwy) to start communicating with the 29-year-old male. As police attempted dialogue with the subject who was 40-50 feet above Gammon Road, and was in a precarious position of easily falling. Two officers managed to get close enough to the subject to quickly grasp him as he was partially off the side of the overpass!

The subject then put up what was described in one report as a “Ferocious fight”, and did not want to be taken into custody. The appropriate decision to utilize a taser to cease the combative behavior of the subject was made, due to the dangerous nature of this incident occurring on a major highway, and all parties being extremely close to the edge of the overpass. The 29-year-old subject was taken into custody with no injury. This was an outstanding display of resolve on the part of officers. These types of cases are extremely delicate, and windows of opportunity to control scenarios such as these are small at best. A clear determination as to why this subject decided to hang from the overpass is unknown. Alcohol was thought to be one factor among many that weighed heavily in the problematic decision that was made by the 29-year-old subject. The name of this individual is not being released based on the sensitive nature of this case.

Anything? Well, here's the first thing that struck me: There is an exclamation mark in this incident report. I've read a lot of police blotters and a handful of actual police reports over the years, and they tend to be very dry and fact oriented. This one is more, well, narrative. It is as though it was written by a freshly graduated PR major. Either the Madison Police Department was working it to get some positive press, or they need to sit their incident report writer down and explain what "just the facts" means.