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Mug Shot Mania

Admit it:  Your favorite part of the Westport News is the Police Reports.

There are run-of-the-mill busts, for DUI and pot.  There are bar fights, road rage fights, fights over who’s a better fighter.  And there are truly cringe-inducing arrests, which we find so hard to read we read them several times.

It’s the same all over the country.  Perhaps the only way to save the sclerotic newspaper industry is to eliminate everything except police news.  Who needs Pulitzers when you’ve got schadenfreude?

But with a special website, Florida’s St. Petersburg Times has elevated police reports to an art form.

The site — admit it, you already clicked the link — shows actual mug shots of people arrested within the past 24 hours in a 3-county area.  Clicking a photo gives important information like height, weight and the actual crime — er, alleged crime.  A notice on the home page explains: “Those appearing here have not been convicted…and are presumed innocent. Do not rely on this site to determine any person’s actual criminal record.”

Of course not!  Putting their mugs on a site called Mugshots Tampa Bay is strictly — what, amusement?  For research purposes only?

Speaking of research, you can consult Mugshots Tampa Bay’s handy graph to determine criminal statistics — I mean, alleged criminal statistics — over the past 60 days.  For example, during the past 2 months 50 folks arrested weighed under 100 pounds — and 94 weighed over 300.  Who knew?

Despite its evident popularity in greater Tampa Bay — and here too, judging by all of you who already checked out the link (and clicked on auxiliary news stories, like “During Traffic Stop, 20-year-old Explains His Vices”) — I don’t think we could replicate that site in Westport.

Our mug shots would have much better lighting.

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