The house on the side of the hill affords a view of nearly the whole town of four thousand some people. In a small town, everyone knows everyone else's business, it seems. I haven't been here long enough to know it all, but I'm catching up. The police pull by every strange car that comes through town on the main highway at night. They run the plates and driver's license numbers. Sometimes they catch methamphetamine users this way, sometimes a guy with a dime bag in the glove box, sometimes a deadbeat dad who's wanted for nonpayment of child support. Usually everything is clear and the people continue on. If you have a scanner, like we have on all night at the nurse's station at the hospital, you'll hear exactly what happened.
One night a 17 year old girl ran away from home. As she ran down the middle of the highway, she became tired. First she dropped her knapsack by the road, shaking it free of her shoulders and running on. Then she dropped the duffel bag she had packed an extra change of clothes and assorted food items in. Next her shoes came off. By the time the police responded to her worried parents' call and picked her up she told them she was running to Mexico. That's a far piece from Oregon. After the cops took her home, they said they would be more than happy to bring her stuff by, piece by piece, as they found it.
They publish the police report in the daily paper. It's a regular piece of copy paper folded in half. The front has a small news feature about the latest chainsaw carving competition or the fireworks display. In winter, it gets pretty mundane. Inside is a listing of upcoming community events and the police blotter. A typical day has 5 or 6 calls. Here's an example:
Driving Complaint- 1500 block Hwy Ave- Informant reports ad river in the supermarket parking lot nearly struck his family.
Theft II- Safeway- Report of pallets stolen.
Assist Agency- Warrant Arrest- Contempt of Court, Failure to Pay Fine, Failure to Carry & Present Driver's License, Driving Uninsured- Male, 41, was booked and lodged.
Medical Assist- 700 block Myrtle- Ambulance dispatched for elderly female with breathing problems.
Verbal Disturbance- 1400 block Hawthorne- Officer responded and situation resolved.
Disturbance- 22nd and Hwy Ave.- Officer dispatched, unable to located (sic) subject.
That's pretty much the way it goes here. It's a small town, plenty to gossip about, but nothing to support any kind of local news organ. When you go to sleep at night, you're not to worried someone is going to break in and steal your children. If the neighbors dog barks too much, you can always call the local PD and they will take care of it.
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