Checking the arrest log online at Keysso.net to see who recently had a run in with the law is a guilty pleasure for some and a daily ritual for others. For locals it provides a Where's Waldo sort of entertainment as one skims the Sheriff's Web site in search of familiar faces. Not that we enjoy the misfortune of others of course, it just never hurts to know what's going on around you. And who am I kidding, it makes for one hell of a conversation starter. "Did you see that so-and-so got arrested?" "He looks like he had one too many and made some bad choices." "I wonder if (insert friend here) knows"... and the cycle begins.
It's a vessel that provides the community with not only a mug shot of the recently arrested but also the suspects' charges and addresses. Mind you that down the line, some of these people will have their charges dropped or be found not guilty. However there's no Web site for the recently exonerated -- It just wouldn't generate as much excitement. The posted pictures taken close to the heat of the moment are usually pretty raw and tell some entertaining stories. I know that technically we shouldn't find humor in other peoples' humiliation... but we do... and no one should take it personally.
There have been photos of people crying, people laughing, people screaming, young and old, rich and poor, sober and far from sober, some with busted lips, swollen eyes and knots on their forehead. Some look like they belong behind bars and some look scared out of their wits that they are going to be stuck behind bars with such characters. It's a melting pot of alleged criminals from near and far who were collected by cops and catapulted online for us to see. And I realize that a lot of the inmates are bad apples and face serious charges, which of course isn't the least bit comical.
From an outsider's point of view, like my poor mother back in Kansas, it's scary to look through these pages. Not exactly the kind of company she likes to imagine me with on the streets of Key West. I had to explain that many have had rough nights and been in fights and who really can pull off fluorescent lights? Plus, if they were to post mug shots of people in my hometown, the results would likely be just as horrific. (Although Key West is rather famous for being a sunny place with a lot of shady people).
Now on occasion, and rarely I might add, there have been a few certifiable hunks and hotties captured on this Web site. I think that over a year's time I could probably pick out at least 12 that could make it in a "Handcuffed and Handsome" or a "Nice Tail in Jail" calendar. Not that I would, it's just a thought. Another idea that was shot down while I was the crime reporter was having an inmate of the month -- kind of like a Citizen of the Day for those who produce the most amusing mug shot.
Now I get that it isn't exactly politically correct to celebrate someone who has just allegedly broken the law, or perhaps is a bit mentally downtrodden. But if we put all that aside we can often find a few hilarious pictures of people worth sharing. Admit it. If you're checking the Web site at work and find an unfortunate photo, your first instinct is to point it out to others so they can laugh along with you. And don't fret if you are unfortunately one of those familiar faces caught mugging it for the camera. Many things move slowly on this island but gossip isn't one of them. Today's topics become yesterday's news real quick as the spotlight shifts to the next scrutinized subject. Just try not to be a repeat offender.
Keep it classy Key West and avoid arrest. But if you can't do that, keep it entertaining at the very least.