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Chicago Blog Review: Arresting Tales

By Katie Buitrago

The Tribune has introduced its new beta platform for local blogs. Here at the Beachwood's Chicago Blog Review Desk, we'll be taking a look at some of the new - and familiar - faces you can find there.


Blog: Arresting Tales

Description: Stories from Joe the Cop

Substance: Joe the Cop, a 20-year veteran of a suburban police department, posts reflections on criminal activity, analyses of cop-related news, first-person accounts of policing and its attendant madness, helpful hints, and answers to civilian questions (hopefully this last feature will happen more often). I admit: before I stumbled across this blog, I went in with some assumptions. "Oh, a cop blog," I thought. "Another furious blog with a defensive cop ranting about 'cop haters' every time someone protests police brutality or a police DUI." Not so, my friends, and I am duly chastened. Joe the Cop is both thoughtful and thought-provoking and by no means supports police no matter what godawful thing they do. He, combined with Whet Moser, changed my mind a bit about the sentencing of Anthony Abbate.

At the very least, his post added important nuance and questions to a case where emotions run extremely high. And his personal tales of police work are entertaining and enlightening. I just hope he answers my question about The Wire. Every college-educated White Person hails it as "gritty" and "realistic," but - come on. I'd wager that none of these vino-swilling bobos have set foot inside a police station since a fifth-grade field trip. Is it actually realistic, Joe the Cop?? Pray tell.

Style: Joe is funny and pithy. He builds his stories and arguments deftly. I don't quite get the evidently ironic helpful tips series. Are they references to news stories? People he's dealt with at the station? It's unclear whether they're based in reality or not - if they are, I guess they're funny. If not, they just seem non sequitur-y.

Tl;dr Score: Low. Joe's writing keeps the pacing feeling fast, even if the posts have high word counts.

Commenter Involvement: His posts don't garner a ton of comments, but his readers are usually smart. Useful conversations between Joe and his readers often develop. Definitely click through after reading a post - the comments actually add value.

Linkage: High. Joe consistently links to funny crime stories or further context on his arguments. He clearly does his research and it adds value to stories you find in the news.

Screen Shot:


Visual Appeal: Same old default ChicagoNow template. You know my thoughts on this by now. I quite like the banner, though the photograph could benefit from some higher-quality photography. The comic font (not Comic Sans, thank ye gods) plus the I'm-watching-you eyes shot lets you know from the get-go that Joe the Cop does not fuck around.

NSFW?: Well, he talks about things like weenie wavers. It's a blog about crime: there are bound to be NSFW topics popping up now and then (unless, of course, you're a cop. Or a journalist. Then everything is SFW). But he doesn't post explicit photos or anything.

Start Here: Hal Turner's history of hate and intimidation.

Bottom Line: Joe the Cop runs a measured, thoughtful blog about policing and crime - a rare gem for the ChicagoNow network. It's not so focused on the inner workings of police politics, like Second City Cop, and that makes it less of a gripefest. It's like The Wire, except with links.


What other blogs are we reading? See the Chicago Blog Review archive.


Comments and submissions welcome.


Posted on June 26, 2009

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