York County crime watch 3/27

Take a look at what’s been going on in York County district courts.

District Judge Barry Bloss Jr.:

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York County crime watch 3/20

District Judge Barry Bloss Jr:

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York County crime watch 3/13

District Judge Barry Bloss Jr:

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York County crime watch 3/6

District Judge Robert Eckenrode:

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York County crime watch 2/27

District Judge Robert Eckenrode:


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York County crime watch 2/20

Take a look at what’s been going on in York County district courts this week.

District Judge Robert Eckenrode:

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York County crime watch 2/13

District Judge Robert Eckenrode:

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‘Nobody loves a police reporter’

In October, a memorial brought more than a dozen people together on a street corner in York, the glow of candles on the pavement lit up their faces. By no means was it an uncommon scene in the small city, where victims of violence are often memorialized quite publicly by family and friends.

On this particular night, the crowd drew a 911 call after someone reported people were getting in the way of traffic on Philadelphia Street.

I was at my apartment eating dinner when I heard the dispatch over my hand-held police scanner.

I decided to check it out.

Probably 10 or 15 minutes later, I would find myself being shoved into a breezeway by 10 young men, their hoods up, bandanas covering their faces and a gun pointed in my face.

***

If you were to meet a crime reporter, or any journalist for that matter, the likelihood of hearing war stories while on the beat is pretty high.

While that particular war story of mine is different – it placed me in the middle of the action, instead of most stories told by reporters, where they have gathered information from witnesses or police – it is one I feel still needs telling.

Read a book by Edna Buchanan, one of my personal heroes, who reported for the Miami Herald in the 1980s when violence and murder frequently grabbed headlines.

In her book, “The Corpse Had a Familiar Face,” Edna writes, “I am too often the bad-news messenger.”

In a chapter titled “Nobody loves a police reporter,” she talks about how, even though she is constantly meeting new people, the beat can be a lonely one. After all, the opening line, “So did you hear the shots?” doesn’t lead to too many long-term relationships, she said.

I read this book just a few days before I started my second job in journalism here at the York Daily Record.

I had just moved from Idaho where, for a year, I worked in a two-person newsroom for a small daily newspaper in the mountains just south of Canada.

There, I was hired to cover sports and education, but from day one I was more of a general assignment reporter. When you have two reporters who need to fill a newspaper every day, it’s all hands on deck at all times – I was taking photographs, uploading articles to the website, writing about county commissioners and the high school football squad, usually in the same day.

The hard work paid off on the weekends.

My Saturdays and Sundays were usually spent outside – fly fishing on a remote stretch of a river or driving an ATV through the backwoods on mountains overlooking the county I covered in that day’s paper. When it snowed, my boss would give me the morning off to go snowboarding.

But it became time for another challenge.

***

I grew to love covering breaking news and crime, and developing sources in police departments who themselves grow to trust you as time passes.

My first day at the Daily Record, I went with our day cops reporter to a news conference for a man arrested in a murder-for-hire plot.

I was no longer in Idaho. This much was clear.

But then, in October, on my typical Saturday night shift, I was mugged.

It was the surreal qualities of that Saturday night that make it seem now like a bad dream.

This group had me cornered. One brandished a handgun (someone asked me the following day if it was real. My guess, probably not. But who knows).

A couple kids threw punches and went through my pockets. In the flurry of commotion and high-adrenaline, I recall how the group appeared unsure of what to do once they had me cornered. These were kids. It was Saturday night. Was this a product of their boredom?

Later that night, after the mugging, I grabbed some beers with one of my editors. He had heard what happened after I phoned into the office. We talked for a couple hours, about the mugging and about journalism. How he got his start as a police reporter and his love of telling stories for the community.

I remember telling him about a man I encountered shortly after the mugging. I had run from the side street and stopped shortly after. The man was leaning against a fence, perhaps taking a break from a house party inside. I started talking, half to myself and half to him, about what just happened.

He just stared and asked, “Well, what were you doing in this part of the city by yourself?”

My response was just to walk away.

But now I think a better response would have been an explanation of what journalists do. I’m only in my second year in this stressful, maddening, rewarding, gratifying profession, so am no authority on the subject.

But we’re here as a public service, to go to dark places to shed light on topics some don’t want talked about. To listen to the father who just lost his teenage son to gun violence. Or the man who just lost all his belongings in a house fire. That’s what I should have said.

I like to think Edna Buchanan would agree.

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York County crime watch 2/6

Take a look at what’s happening in district courts around York County.

District Judge Robert Eckenrode:


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York County crime watch 1/30

Take a look at what’s been going on in district courts around York County.

District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf:

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