PACIFIC COUNTY — Asked to give an example of an “emergency,” most people would suggest something like a stroke, fallen power line, house fire or car accident. However, records from local police departments and the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office emergency dispatch center suggest that there are plenty of people who define the term more broadly, as “any nuisance, conflict or strange situation that I can’t, or don’t want to deal with myself.” While those calls might not make good use of emergency responders’ time, they do provide a colorful glimpse at the stranger side of life in the county’s small, rural communities.

Of course, some silly-sounding calls do turn out to be legitimate emergencies, and a caller’s distress can be serious, even when the situation isn’t. It is not the intention of the Chinook Observer to mock anyone who found themselves in difficult circumstances. Emergency response experts say that when in doubt, it’s better to play it safe and call for help. However, if you know your situation is not urgent, you can always call the non-emergency dispatch line at: 360-875-9397.

You may notice that there are very few incidents from November and December. During that period, PCSO wasn’t consistently providing complete dispatch reports.

Pacific County residents love their animals. Other people’s animals? Not so much.

Citizens made dozens of legitimate calls about aggressive, sick, injured or neglected animals. However, they also called dispatch when they were unsure how to respond to bizarre situations, or utterly fed-up with chicken-killing dogs, hungry bears, livestock who didn’t stay put, and pit bulls who did pretty much anything.

In January, a dispute erupted in Chinook when a dog-owner accused a man of beating his dog for “shitting” in his yard.

A Raymond resident complained about a garbage-can raiding possum.

In March, someone near South Bend reportedly set off explosives, in an apparent attempt to scare off geese. In May, an Ilwaco resident asked for help with a 350 to 400-pound black bear, who was “going through garbage cans.”

In June, a man who was walking with a turtle in Ilwaco was “beating the turtle.” A week later, callers asked for help fishing a dog out of a septic hole.

In July, an Ilwaco caller reported a “big dead sturgeon sitting in the middle of the road.” In Surfside, two raccoons attacked a woman, and “tore up her pants.” A man said four of his chickens were stolen during the night. A few hours later, he called back to say that his chickens “flew back” home. In Smith Creek, two dogs were spotted “walking down the road tied together.” Another man called to ask if he was allowed to shoot the animals that were eating all the pears on his tree.

In August, a Long Beach woman said she had locked herself out, and needed to get back in so she could give her diabetic cat a shot.

Loose animal complaints included several goats and sheep in a yard in Raymond, a large bull who was on the loose, two horses and a mule in the road near Menlo, cows headed toward the highway in Chinook, horses “hanging out” in a Surfside yard, pit bulls in Nahcotta, and a roving pot-bellied pig in Surfside.

When the sun goes down, things get strange. Really strange. Night-shift cops handled a range of hard-to-classify incidents, involving mysterious goings-on under cover of night.

In February, a caller reported a “rancid” smell in a Grayland home, saying they thought it might be meth, and another Grayland caller reported four loud “booms”coming from near the water.

In March, an Ocean Park (OP) resident asked police for assistance for someone who couldn’t get out of their personal handcuffs.

In April, a man in Long Beach was reportedly “acting erotic,” pacing up and down the road, talking to himself and statues, and scaring women in the area. The dispatch report didn’t indicate what the man said to the statues, so it’s not clear whether he was actually being “erotic,” or merely “erratic.” A few days later, Long Beach police dealt with two “partially clothed” individuals at 2:15 in the morning.

In June, a Long Beach caller complained of someone “drilling” and “hammering” at 2:28 a.m., and in Surfside, two men caused concern by digging a hole six feet deep by eight feet wide.

In July, a Long Beach resident said a band with a drummer was creating a public disturbance by playing at 10:24 p.m.

In September, a Menlo resident said meat was missing was from their freezer, possibly taken by “weirdos,” who had been walking up and down the road.

In Pacific County, 911 calls about kids on skateboards are as inevitable as death and taxes — about half of all behavior complaints about youths involved skating. But local kids managed to draw the ire of 911 callers in a variety of other ways too.

In January, “three or four kids” in black clothing and hoodies allegedly tried to break windows by throwing rocks in Long Beach, “six or seven” kids got reported for shooting off fireworks in Long Beach, and four teenagers with backpacks dodged in and out of “back roads.”

In February, “kids” in OP were “doing tear outs and revving engines.”

In March, “kids” threw rocks at cars in Long Beach. Wayward youths also climbed onto the roof of the Dunes restaurant in OP, and threw eggs at other cars while cruising in Oysterville.

In May, an apparently out-of-control teenager poured liquids on a floor, then tried to run away. Two teenage girls climbed onto the roof of an OP home, and “punk kids” caused an uproar at a garage sale, when they drove across the lawn in a four-wheel drive vehicle and did a “burn-out” as they left. In Long Beach two young males were “jumping on trucks” and moving rocks around at a business.

Over the summer, two 10-year-old boys got reported for “wandering around and yelling profanity,” two “very clean-looking” teenage boys in OP got “up to something,” two teens in a truck reportedly scared “old people” in the area by “jacking the truck up,” four young kids played inside barrels in a road near Raymond, and a kid in an Ilwaco motel room screamed for about 15 minutes.

In September, a kid “was on the roof of Chico’s Pizza” in Seaview, and someone put multiple stickers on a vehicle at a football game.

Skateboard complaints included “kids skateboarding on dugouts and port-a-potties,” kids skating in a parking lot, a boy who grabbed a truck while skating, and kids who skated at vacant summer homes, on tables and in front of driveways.

It’s not a crime to be poor or funny-looking, but that fact was lost on a few callers who seemed as concerned with a subject’s appearance as with anything they were actually doing.

In March, a Long Beach caller reported a man wearing “a hot hat, blonde curly wig and pink shirt” for digging through recycling bins.

In June, someone in Long Beach accused two men with dreadlocks of walking a dog. A Raymond caller reported that a “lady in a pink robe” was sitting in a ditch. In Nahcotta, a man who was “unshaved, with bad teeth and a plaid jacket,” and another who was “big and overweight” were seen going from property to property.

In October, an allegedly intoxicated man wearing “no shoes and one purple sock” and carrying a guitar case was reported for “acting weird” and “talking to fairies.” In Surfside, a caller described a person was “walking down the street wrapped in black plastic.” The person fell down but got back up, and kept going.

In theory, age brings wisdom. In reality, age just brings an increasing likelihood that someone will call 911 if you do something ridiculous.

In December 2015, a caller caught a man backing into another vehicle while trying to steal the caller’s car. The thief allegedly took off running when the caller jumped into the passenger seat and pulled the keys out of the ignition.

In January, someone threw mud all over the back window of a vehicle in OP.

In February, a Surfside caller said a group of people were scattering condoms around a property, and putting toilet paper on the fence. In March, a man entered a Long Beach business, carrying a bag that was leaking milk all over the floor. When employees put it in the sink, the man allegedly started screaming and threatening to take them to small claims court.

In April, a troublemaker reportedly damaged a Bay Center septic system by dumping a “bunch of stuff” in the tank, and in May, a heavyset, possibly intoxicated man peed on a bush in Seaview.

In June, a woman was caught “tossing needles” in a Nahcotta driveway. A Long Beach woman’s roommate was “freaking out” because she was making toast. In OP, two men stole flowers off a bush.

In July, a South Bend man said a guy “spat” on him for no reason. A trespasser in OP “tore up cigarettes all over the back yard,” and in Ilwaco, an intoxicated man pulled his pants down and used a bench as a bathroom.

In August, a woman in OP, who was having a dispute with someone, allegedly pulled down her pants and showed her butt. A “guy” was seen “taking all the paper towels” at pumps at an OP gas station. In Ilwaco, a man with “some attitude” got out of a truck and “bounced his belly” off another person. In Seaview, someone hung a hammock on private property and took a nap.

In September, a man allegedly knocked over an outhouse in Grayland, and in OP, a naked woman argued with a man in a pickup truck, and a man was spotted “walking around in his underwear.” A Seaview man who was “dressed in black” was spotted cutting pampas grass in a neighbor’s yard, and a man who looked like “a homeless cowboy” harassed people in Long Beach.

On Oct. 11, two people called about a man who was walking down the street in OP. The first said he had his pants down around his knees. The second caller said he had no pants at all.

Mischief-makers were nothing, if not resourceful in 2016, wielding a variety of real and improvised weapons.

In January, a 10-foot drone allegedly flew over a home. The homeowners said that when they tried to take pictures of the drone, it flew at them.

In March, a Long Beach man reported an assault, saying he had been “head butted” in the face.

In April, an OP man who had been listening to loud music said he looked out the window and saw another man pointing an assault rifle at him. In May, an OP woman said someone fired a BB gun in her direction when she looked out of her front door.

In June, two callers reported seeing a strange older man carrying a butcher knife in Long Beach. While having an argument in a truck, a woman “poked” her partner. He reportedly “poked her back” using the stick from a lollypop, and it went in her ear. In July, a man with a bow and arrow shot at a sign.

In August, someone in OP had “a big-ass gun,” a “drunk guy” in South Bend was “bouncing a golf ball off the doors,” and a “man on a bike with a very skinny neck and face tattoos” reportedly brandished a machete as he left an OP parking lot.

In September, a woman in Tokeland allegedly got out of a vehicle with a “sledge hammer and axe,” but put the axe in the back of her pants so that the people she was approaching couldn’t see it. An Ilwaco resident said a man in camouflage was carrying a compound bow and arrows, and in OP, a man who was waving around nunchucks reportedly didn’t respond when he was asked to stop.

There’s a certain kind of person who sits by their window, waiting to catch someone else breaking the rules. That kind of person tends to keep 911 on speed-dial.

In January, a Nahcotta caller complained that someone in the neighborhood got a tuba for Christmas and had been playing it for hours, saying, “it needs to stop.” In Chinook, a caller said someone in a house was pointing lasers toward the road.

In March, a Long Beach caller complained about saws and other sources of excess noise in their neighborhood.

In June, a Long Beach caller reported a homeless man for digging through the garbage, saying he had been eating chowder that was probably not safe to eat. Also in Long Beach, “rednecks” in a trailer were so loud they were vibrating the windows of a nearby home. Near Grayland, a passenger in a speeding vehicle was reported for “drooling” out the window, and possibly casing the area, and in Seaview, a caller reported a homeless man for playing basketball with a young kid.

Most people agree about “things you should do on a road,” and “things you should not do on a road.” But not all people. Ringo Starr would be proud.

In March, a Nahcotta resident said someone with a spotlight on their vehicle was driving through trees and “doing cookies” in a yard. In April, a vehicle was making “donuts” in the surf near the Surfside beach approach.

In May, a caller in Raymond said a man was “defecating in the middle of the road,” and had been doing so “for over a year.” He told dispatchers he caught the unsavory act “on camera,” and had followed the alleged public pooper back to his trailer.

On a June night in Raymond, a car and a motorcycle nearly struck a person while “racing in an alley.” A second caller said the “same guys are doing the same thing, going wide open, fighting, driving fast.” In a separate Raymond incident, someone allegedly shot a BB gun at a car, damaging the windshield.

Also in June, a man said his foot “slipped on the accelerator” as he was driving in OP. According to the man, some people jumped out of a sedan and starting screaming, and then opened the door of his vehicle and “whooped his ass.”

In August, a caller said a homeless was person sleeping with his feet in the street in the middle of the day. Another caller reported a man on a small, motorized wheelchair who was “driving down the wrong side of the road,” and in Long Beach, a caller complained about a speeding motorcycle-driver who nearly hit a group of people while “popping wheelies.” Trespassers on a Grayland property allegedly damaged a septic tank lid when they drove over it.

In September, someone in Nahcotta called 911 to report a man who was walking in the middle of the road.

In some cases, it was likely difficult for police to determine whether a crime had even occurred, much less how to solve it.

In January, a Menlo caller reported “explosions” of indeterminate origin. In OP, a woman reported that she was the victim of a scam, saying that after she called a number given to her on her computer, “they” took over her computer and “dropped a bunch of porn” on her hard drive.

In March, a Chinook resident found “old and wet ammo” in an attic. In May, a strange vehicle was seen pulling in and out of a Nahcotta driveway. The caller said the people inside were taking pictures of the home, and animals at the home.

In April, a Seaview caller said a woman was lying down by a dumpster. The dumpster-dozer said she didn’t need help. In June, a woman was reported to be “lost up in a tree.”

In July, a Long Beach woman said that when she came home and counted her “underwear and socks,” she discovered that someone had taken some of them. An OP caller reported “a large amount of blood” inside the post office, and another caller said “someone dumped human remains at the cemetery.”

In September, a Tokeland resident complained that a red meat truck was seen driving around, and said the drivers didn’t have a business license. It was not clear from the dispatch report whether the meat, the truck — or both — were red.

In October, a Surfside caller was concerned about a parked car in a private driveway that had “a bunch” of wet leaves in the back seat. The caller said a woman came walking up with an armful of leaves, and told the caller she had one more armload to get.

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