Allow me if you will to present a retelling of the traditional Christmas story, using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the archives of the Bethlehem Police Department.
One document in particular, the BPD Daily Crime Bulletin, offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.
Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured – believed to be c.2000 years ago)
Late Turn (2pm-10pm)
- Day 5 of Operation Census
- Substantial numbers of migrants arriving at border during past week
- Low levels of community tension reported; no incidents of note in last 24 hrs
- Large crowds expected in central Bethlehem this evening
- No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder
- Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’ (an attack is highly likely)
- 12 PCs on duty
(Handover note: Roads Policing chariot in for repairs – no replacement available).
- Start of shift
- 2 PCs to fixed post at main Town Checkpoint
- 2 PCs to ongoing crime scene at Caesar’s Nightclub
- 2 PCs to constant watch in the cells
- Remaining officers out on foot
- Routine patrols – High Street
- Town Centre busy but peaceful
- Call to Civil Dispute in the foyer of the Judea Travelodge
- Apparent misunderstanding regarding double booking of main suite
- Situation deteriorated as it became apparent that there were no other rooms available – at the hotel or anywhere else in the town
- Suspects became violent. Two arrests. Both now staying with us overnight.
- Suspect detained by staff at the Bethlehem Brasserie for theft of a jug of wine
- Evidence consumed prior to police arrival
- Suspect unfit for interview until tomorrow morning
- Reports of possible UFO sighting
- Claims of a bright light – moving East to West at a height of several thousand feet
- Area Search, No Trace
- Possible Nuisance Call
- Multiple calls to disturbance on hillside a mile outside town
- Reports of strobe lighting and loud music
- Initial suspicions of an illegal rave in progress
- On arrival, met by group of Shepherds and a large number of sheep
- Shepherds claimed to have been visited by an angelic choir (as if we’d fall for that one). Sheep useless as witnesses.
- But, despite lengthy enquiries and a thorough search of the area, no sound system or lighting equipment found – and no evidence recovered suggesting the use of mind-altering substances. Not so much as a spliff.
- Shepherds initially threatened with arrest for wasting police time – but eventually given a Verbal Warning when they explained that they were leaving anyway.
- Last seen running towards Bethlehem Town Centre.
- Call to an impromptu protest outside Bethlehem Town Hall
- Discovered a small crowd carrying banners, chanting slogans and demanding Judean independence from the rule of Rome
- Dispersed at request of officers without incident – though something tells me we haven’t seen or heard the last of them.
- Call from our colleagues in the Judea Border Patrol
- They have stopped a group of Travellers who claim to have come from ‘afar’ (Have yet to establish where this is)
- The three who appear to be in charge are well dressed and claim to know something about the earlier UFO report
- Search of luggage has revealed a quantity of gold and a container filled with an aromatic and suspicious looking resin
- Enquiries ongoing re possible offences
- Update from Border Patrol
- Travellers able to prove ownership of gold – and the resin turns out to be something called Myrrh. Checks confirm this isn’t a Controlled Drug
- Allowed on their way
- Call to suspected Child Protection case
- Allegation of a newborn baby being cared for in wholly unsuitable circumstances – apparently in a stable, surrounded by livestock and with no heating or running water
- Unmarried teenage mother with no obvious means of support aside from an older man claiming – without documentation – to be her ‘betrothed’
- On arrival, found earlier group of Shepherds in street outside
- Initially threatened them with arrest for Obstructing Police – then saw expression on their faces
- Decided to see for myself what was going on
- Ma’am, I’ve walked this beat for almost 25 years and I’ve seen most things that this line of work puts your way – but I have no words to describe what I saw last night
- No arrests necessary. No explanation adequate. But everything is different now
- By the time you read this, I’ll have finished my shift. But if you have any questions about this report, you’ll find me back at the stable door.
- If I may Ma’am – and if you have time – you really ought to come and see for yourself
Happy Christmas, one and all.