Every week people question whether the Phoenixville Police Department's incident blotters — which are posted to the department's Facebook page — are real or not.

They're that good — and bizarre.

Take this entry from Nov. 3: "…at 5:45 p.m., police responded to the unit block of E. Walnut Street for a report of a woman with a deceased possum. Insisting the animal had been shot, the intoxicated resident began using her fingers to dig inside the carcass for the bullet. The officer cautioned the woman against exposing her bare hands to the dead animal and convinced her to dispose of it."

The blotters, which are posted twice weekly by Phoenixville Sgt. Joe Nemic, are a throwback to an older time when newspapers printed daily incident call logs, also known as police blotters, for local departments.

"When I started, our local reporter from the Pottstown Mercury would come in every day and read our blotter, but they haven't done that for years," said Nemic, a 26-year veteran. "Instead of a reporter coming in, now I'm providing that information to the public and our followers."

Phoenixville Police Sgt. Joe Nemic in his office.
Bradley C Bower/Philadelphia Inquirer
Phoenixville Police Sgt. Joe Nemic in his office.

And he's doing so without pomp or police jargon. Nemic uses terms like "throw down" instead of assault and "weed" instead of "a leafy green substance believed to be marijuana." He's also not afraid to insert some humor.

When writing about a Jan. 6 fight at a club, Nemic wrote: "The officers broke up the fight and the participants had the good sense to walk away — except one. A 21 year old man from Stowe pushed past the officers and tried to throw down again so he was arrested."

"I told the chief I wanted to use common terminology instead of police jargon," Nemic said. "It connects with the people better and helps them realize we're just members of the community doing this difficult job."

And the people are loving it.

"Best police blotter I've ever read," Georgette Ruocco commented on the department's Facebook page.

"Legit thought this was a joke while reading at one point," Facebook commenter Justine Barrales said. "Thank you men and women for putting up with the stupidity and helping those in need."

When Nemic, 45, took over the blotter in August, after eight years as head of the detective unit, he was so new to social media he didn't have a Facebook account. But in just six months, his blotters have become so popular that the department has nearly doubled its Facebook following to more than 5,300 people. A cartoonist, Jackie Hripto, 39, of Spring City, has even created comic strips based off the blotters.

Cartoonist Jackie Hripto, 39, of Spring City, created this comic strip based on one of the Phoenixville Police Department’s blotters.
Jackie Hripto
Cartoonist Jackie Hripto, 39, of Spring City, created this comic strip based on one of the Phoenixville Police Department’s blotters.

"I planned to use the blotter as a new source of inspiration, since the writer is a great storyteller," Hripto said.

While the blotters are funny, well-written and, at times, completely absurd, there's also an underlying vein of sadness and social criticism pumping through them. These police logs offer an inside glimpse into the bizarre calls authorities answer in a small town that's experiencing a major revitalization through a growing restaurant and bar scene.

Consequently, many of the calls officers answer involve public drunkenness, public urination, open containers, and driving under the influence. Police also respond to an unsettling number of calls for people who are passed out drunk on sidewalks.

"It's an unpleasant side effect of the success of the town," Nemic said.

Before he took over the blotter, the department simply reported the number of DUI or public drunkenness arrests it made, instead of giving an account of what happened. Nemic thought that approach gave the appearance that the department's 30 officers were just arresting revelers willy nilly.

"We wanted to show that the majority of the arrests we are making, we are responding to reports," he said. "My hope is it paints an overall picture of the services that the taxpayers are getting … we want to show these guys are running around all day handling all sorts of calls for service, they're not just waiting for you to go through a red light."

Here are 10 of the best items from the Phoenixville police blotter (not counting the opossum call):

  • On 01/05/2018 at 9:24PM, Officer Dobry observed a pedestrian walking in circles backwards on Gay Street near Church Street and asked him if he was okay. The man told the officer that he was talking on his phone using his Bluetooth headset and could hear better if he walked in circles because it was windy.
  • On 01/07/2018 at 2:18PM, a resident called 911 and reported that there was a duck sitting in the middle of the street in the 300 block of North Street. The duck was alive but not moving and the caller believed it was frozen to the ground. Corporal Artz responded and the duck was uninjured and apparently just resting in the street. The officer spoke to a nearby resident who raises ducks on her property and confirmed that the duck had flown the coop. Duck and owner were reunited.
  • On 12/16/2017 at 11:17AM, police responded to a disturbance inside a home in the 100 block of Marshall Street. Two roommates were arguing over which one should buy their weed for the weekend and one of the men called 911. The men were informed that the police do not resolve drug disputes and they agreed to stop arguing.
  • On 12/16/2017 at 1:18PM, a resident in the 500 block of Main Street reported that his neighbor's fenced in dog barks at him every time he walks by and he is concerned that the dog will cause him to slip on the ice and have a heart attack. On 12/17/2017 at 9:39AM, the owner of the dog in the 500 block of Main Street reported that her neighbor yells at her and uses profanity when her fenced in dog barks at him.
  • On 12/16/2017 at 2:15PM, two teenage boys reported that they were walking in the woods behind Kmart and a man approached them carrying a red bucket and asked them if they wanted a Christmas present. Officers located the suspicious man, a 49 year old homeless guy, who was eating a steak with BBQ sauce out of the bucket. The man agreed that he probably creeped the boys out and said he would not approach people anymore.
  • On 12/12/2017 at 8:25PM, police responded to Buck's Garage on St. Mary's Street for the report of a suspicious person sitting inside a plow truck in the parking lot since 8AM that morning. Officers approached cautiously and discovered that the suspicious man was a mannequin wearing a straw hat.
  • On 11/30/2017 at 2:12AM, police responded to the 300 block of St. Mary's Street for an odor investigation. A resident in the block reported that he smelled marijuana and thought one of his neighbor's may be smoking it. Officers responded and realized a skunk had just sprayed in the area and they got out of there as fast as they could.
  • On 11/18/2017 at 3:16AM, Officer Lee was patrolling in the 600 block of Bridge Street and observed a man climbing up a utility pole. Officer Lee stopped and questioned the man, a 30-year-old Phoenixville resident, who explained that he was having a conversation with an inanimate object. The man was intoxicated so the officer arrested him for public drunkenness and he was released when he was sober.
  • On 11/18/2017 at 6:35PM, police responded to the report of a couple arguing inside a residence in the 500 block of Mason Street. Officers spoke to the couple and they explained that they weren't arguing — they were just trying to assemble a desk from Ikea.
  • On 11/04/2017 at 5:42AM, police responded to a residence in the 300 block of Brower Street for a report of family members having an argument about the television show Law and Order they were binge watching all night. In keeping with the theme of the show, the family agreed to respect their neighbors and keep the noise down.
  • Read more favorite items from the Phoenixville police blotter here.