The Christmas Blotter

ON ANY OTHER night, she might have shrugged it all off: Prostitutes and drug dealers who get robbed don't make a habit of bringing their troubles to the cops. But when a john failed to pay up on Christmas Eve, of all days, it proved too much for one Minneapolis hooker. She flagged down a squad on Nicollet Avenue, sobbed out her story. The police chased down the john and booked the both of them.

They weren't alone. In Minnea-polis, police logged over 100 incidents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, ranging from a fight over a missing Super Nintendo to a careless driving citation with divine implications. In general, the worst holiday transgressions occurred in the home. By 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve, six women had been assaulted in the previous several hours--one beaten with a baseball bat, another raped, another sexually assaulted at knife-point. By Christmas night, the number of domestic assaults had risen to 18. A sampler from the yule blotter:

§ At 4:25 a.m. on December 23, a man kicked in the window at his girlfriend's apartment, spraying his four-year-old son with broken glass.

§ Twenty minutes later, police were called to the scene of an assault that resulted after a man hid his girlfriend's and her children's presents behind a fence near her home. After an argument that lasted all night, he told police, "he'd laid down on the couch," according to the report, "and fell asleep when the defendant threw a glass at him and struck him in the forehead."

§ At 5:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, another man called police to report that his girlfriend had assaulted him. "The victim was laying in bed smoking a cigarette," said the report, "when the defendant told him to put it out. The two of them got in an argument and [the defendant] hit the victim in the face with an open hand."

§ Later the same day, officers had to sort out an even more complicated Christmas present fiasco. A woman called police after her roommate punched her and knocked her head against the wall. The trouble started on Christmas Eve, when, according to the police narrative, "at approx. 1700 hours the suspect and one of his friends were inside the home playing Super Nintendo. When [the victim] returned home at approx. 2200 hours she discovered that her Super Nintendo game and other pieces were gone. The suspect and his friend had also left the house... on [Christmas day] she confronted the suspect on the theft over the phone. He did not admit the theft but later came to the above address. Victim stated that when he came inside the address he attacked her."

§ Police were called to a burglary-in-progress in northeast Minneapolis at 9:39 on Christmas night. Neighbors had phoned to report a stranger breaking into a car. But when police arrived, it turned out the man was smashing the windows of his own car. They arrested him for disorderly conduct.

§ One minute into Christmas, a visitor from Illinois flagged down an off-duty cop. "While working at the 7 Corners parking ramp," the officer noted, "I was informed by victim that his 1993 Geo Metro was picked up and placed on its side." A phone call to the tow company took care of that one.

§ "I was dispatched to [a North Minneapolis apartment building]," one officer noted just 40 minutes into Christmas Day. "When I arrived I met with Security who told me the defendant was pressing all the buzzers to all the rooms in the apartment building and swearing. Security told him to leave several times. He refused and continued to press buzzers and swear at people. People inside the building were becoming upset and were unaware of what was going on. The defendant was transported to [Hennepin County Jail] and booked."

Not all the notations in the police blotter are the trails left behind by the drunk and disorderly. At least four people committed suicide between December 23 and 25. That's a little high for Hennepin County, which averages three or four a week during the rest of the year. There were also more DWIs than on a normal night: A dozen or so drunk drivers got hauled into jail, including a 29-year-old woman whose two kids were in the back of the car. DWIs are one of the most common offenses on the blotter and, along with other traffic offenses, usually fall below the radar of anyone scanning the booking sheets. But one seasonal moving violation was worth noting: On Christmas Day, at 2 a.m., a man named Jesus was arrested in Minneapolis for careless driving. Jesus spent Christmas 1995 in the county jail.

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