Gene Weingarten: Farewell to the acerbic poet of the police report

Gene Weingarten
Columnist July 3, 2012

I’m bummed because one of my favorite writers has retired. William Murray’s style is laconic, and his genre is “police blotter.” He was the public information officer who wrote the famously wry, quirky weekly report for the police department of Vienna, the D.C. suburb where, criminally speaking, not a whole heck of a lot goes on.

Here’s a tribute collection of excerpts from Murray’s late- and early-career hits:

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

• Ofcr. Sheeran responded to a known female subject in the process of concealing a beef tenderloin in her purse.

A citizen reported that as she entered her home she heard unfamiliar voices and was concerned that someone was there. A search of the home discovered that a computer had been left on and was broadcasting the Easter Service in Latin from the Vatican.

A citizen reported that his wife refuses to allow him to leave his bedroom until he pays her some money that she is owed.


(Illustration by Eric Shansby)

A citizen reported that unknown subjects wrote offensive words on her vehicle using what appeared to be ice cream.

Ofcr. Kiley responded to a caller who dialed 911 but then hung up without reporting any emergency. His investigation revealed that a mother had called police because her husband used profanity in front of the children.

Ofcr. Barker received a report of a cat bite. His investigation revealed that the cat bite was not committed out of anger, but was more of an accident that occurred during feeding.

A citizen reported that she received a large check for proceeds from the sale of her home. The woman’s boyfriend advised her not to put the money in the bank but instead keep it in cash. While the two were staying at a hotel, the boyfriend suggested the woman go out and get him some food. When the woman returned, both money and boyfriend were gone.

Officers responded to a domestic dispute between a husband and wife. The argument stemmed from the need to fill a prescription and the fact that the wife did not want to go out in public. The husband did not want to have to wait in line to fill the prescription; he wanted to call ahead. The wife, however, refused to let the husband use her cellphone because she was low on minutes.

A citizen called to report that she and her service dog had been asked to leave a store. The store management stated that they asked the complainant and her dog to leave because the dog had no service-dog vest and was being carried in a purse.

The fire department had been summoned by an individual after her roommate started a fire in the fireplace. The fire had produced some smoke, which circulated in the house. This resulted in a verbal altercation. Ofcr. Tracy and fire department employees discussed the issue with both parties. The roommate agreed to remove one log and push the remaining logs in a little bit.

A citizen called police regarding an individual who had been lying in his front yard for a period of time. Investigation revealed that the homeowner had tripped in a hole and was taking his time getting up.

A juvenile advised that he hid his backpack in the park and when he returned to retrieve it, he found that someone had set it on fire.

A citizen reported that while her van was parked at the school, unknown subjects wrote disparaging remarks about President Obama on the vehicle using a marker.

***

So long, Ofcr. Bill Murray. I’m going to miss you, but maybe not as much as I had feared. I just got a new weekly police blotter report from your successor, Ofcr. Gary Lose:

A citizen reported he was assaulted by a co-worker with a tomato and an onion. ...

E-mail Gene at weingarten@washpost.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.

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