Thursday, November 1, 2007

Armed Robberies, sex offenders and budgets: work at the Freeman

The last couple of weeks have had a recurring theme for me at work. I have been covering mostly hard news and late-breaking news. The story that was the most fun for me was covering the armed robbery at Wendy's. Most people are surprised when I tell that that covering an armed robbery is fun, but it was for me.

I got there shortly after the call went out over the police scanner that a couple of employees at Wendy's was robbed by gunpoint by a man who was wearing a mask and who fled on foot into a subdivision. I pulled up to Wendy's (a location I eat at often) and parked my car. I grabbed my camera bag with my new flash and walked over to the congregating police officers. There must have been about eight squad cars there.

The police were very helpful and polite. They told me what they knew and then I just waited around as they prepared a search team with a dog. Meanwhile an officer started to rope off the entrance to the restaurant parking lot. But, then she kept going until my car was behind the yellow caution tape.

My editor didn't believe me at first when I told him my car was cordoned off. I couldn't believe it either. I had parked next to the suspected get-a-way vehicle. What luck!

Well, the police were really easy going about it and lifted the tape so I could drive under it. They were also nice enough to let me stand close enough to them that I could eavesdrop on most of what they were saying.

What surprised me while I stood there was how many cars attempted to get into the Wendy's parking lot. One car started to drive through the yellow tape and tore it down. About a half dozen other cars drove in through the exit in order to swing around into the drive-thru window, which was closed.

I learned a lot that night.
1) Being small, young and female helped me out because the police and most others don't see me as intimidating or a threat.

2) People will go through a lot of trouble to try and get a Jr. bacon cheeseburger and some chicken nuggets.

I also got sent out after we heard a call in the office about an armed robber who held up a Carroll College student not too far from campus.

I also wrote about sex offender registry ordinances (the big topic of discussion at city and village meetings in the area) and budgets for these same places. I don't think I have ever disliked writing about anything as much as I disliked writing about budgets. It involves a lot of number crunching and tedious reading.

My favorite story of the week was about Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. I learned a lot about this holiday that is celebrated today and tomorrow primarily by Mexicans. I love stories that make me learn while I write about them and that also allow me to talk to real people.

"What you deny to others will be denied to you, for the plain reason that you are always legislating for yourself, all your words and actions define the world you want to live in."
--Thaddeus Golas
from The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment

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