Ocean City Today

Quirks of ‘cop-speak’

By Stewart Dobson | Aug 10, 2017



printed 08/11/2017


You have to love police reports for their application of the language. If you’ll notice, police seldom answer a call or “go” to the scene of an incident, they “respond” to it.

I don’t know why that stands out to me, unless it’s because it wouldn’t sound right for me to say, for instance, “I’m going to respond to the bar after work. Allegedly.”

Police — and some police writers — also are fond of saying “individual” instead of  “person,” which, to my way of thinking aren’t necessarily interchangeable words.

To me, an individual is a person who stands out, although it might be argued that committing crimes is one way to do that, although I wouldn’t recommend it.

Because I edit stories and news releases for a living, I probably notice these linguistic idiosyncrasies more than others.

Still, let’s take a well-known story and turn it into a police blotter item to see if anyone notices the difference.

Individual stoned

Local police responded this week to an incident at Gath, where a verbal argument between two groups of individuals escalated into an altercation that ended in one man’s death.

Officers attached to the Israelite Bureau of Investigations (IBI) said two large groups of men were facing off near the entrance of the city, after a gang known as The Philistines had gathered in massive numbers for an unsanctioned event without a permit.

Although directed to disperse by officers, the Philistines refused their lawful order and began cursing and screaming. Alcohol may have been a factor, police said.

The deceased individual, who had no identification papers on his person and was known only as “Goliath,” was found to be in possession of several illegal weapons. Among them and in plain sight was a 26-foot-long pointed fighting instrument, or spear, for which he had no carry permit.

Witnesses told police that Goliath repeatedly challenged the other group to direct someone to fight him but that they seemed determined to avoid any physical interaction with him or his associates.

The investigation into the incident suggested this may have been because Goliath was approximately 9 feet, nine inches tall, weighed 860 pounds and was of a muscular nature.

According to the police report, the confrontation had been simmering for 40 days when a minor, whose name is being withheld pending notification of his parents, took up the challenge.

The police narrative of the events indicates that Goliath screamed insults and profanity as he charged the boy, who then deployed a homemade projectile launching system that struck Goliath in the head.

Observing that the projectile had dazed Goliath, the youth allegedly removed the victim’s head and took it with him as he left the scene.

The medical examiner’s office later confirmed that it had conducted an autopsy on an individual who appeared to be headless at the time.

Police determined that the youth acted in self-defense.

He has since been released into the custody of his family.


Maybe it’s just me, but I think it loses something in translation.

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