Whither the wacky coplog? That’s your call

I knew this day would come, and here we are. My warm, wise, witty, WTF “Arcata Police Log” is now obsolete, maybe. You decide.

My writing the coplog goes back to one week in 1993, when Union Editor Rosemary Edmiston, who usually wrote it up, was too busy and asked me to do the rewrite of the dispatcher log.

I was thrilled to do so, because it was the Union’s Police Log that drew me to Arcata in the first place – reading that fateful item from the 1980s about someone stuffing cheese in McKinley’s nose and ears. Doing the coplog closed the circle for me.

Plus it was a hell of a lot of fun to write (and still is). Where it had been a fairly perfunctory four- to six-item affair (to cover a whole week’s crime-time in Arcata!), and was very dry. I couldn’t resist adding wordplay and context, populating it with the street characters I knew, and before long that wacky crime blotter started getting a lot of attention.

When Herb Caen quoted it one day, all heaven broke loose and the coplog became a Thing. I started pushing the envelope to greater depths of absurdity.

There were features in national newspapers, including the New York Times, and some TV news stories. I self-published a few books of the funnier, more poetic items in the early 2000s as that eccentric police logger from the remote wilds of Northern California.

I probably could have made a career of that had I known what I was doing. But I wasn’t really up to being the caricature the marketing needed. Soon enough, this image overlay was superseded by the one where I was the enemy of all things grow house. I still get recognized from time to time in my travels maybe once a year, as “that guy who writes the funny police blotter.”

The ’90s was a different era, when media was still more staid and traditional. What with the internet and our rapidly evolving lexicon and usage styles, what seemed edgy and daring to publish back then is not so much, at this point.

Anyway, after the original Union expired, the kooky coplog carried on through the Humboldt Beacon, the Arcata Eye and now the Mad River Union. I think the writing has matured a little bit, gaining more subtlety. Along with the “twee” embroidery, I have held to the basic premise of giving readers a sense of what is happening in the streets of our land. But it’s still loopy AF.

Now we have a decision to make, because all the dispatcher log items from which I derive the Union’s Police Log are available online, via the Arcata Police CitizenRIMS web page, arcata.crimegraphics.com. If knowing what crime is occurring in Arcata is why you read the coplog, now you have the raw, non-colorized feed.

So the question is, should I keep writing the value-added version? If I stop, I could spend those hours on other projects to make America great again. Or I could keep it going, business as usual.

One of the many things that annoy me are geezers who really ought to call it a day with their shtick, whatever it is, and move on. But they don’t know how to do anything else so they keep going through the motions, pumping out mediocrity. I really don’t need to be that guy. Maybe I already am, and don't need to compound the injury to civilization.

So I’m inclined to stop doing the coplog and turn you over to the APD webpage, but will cede to readers’ wishes.

Send any comments to [email protected], with Police Log in the subject line. Or leave an acrid Facebook comment.

And thanks for reading all these years!

Kevin L. Hoover is editor-at-large of the Mad River Union.




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