Dear Hollywood: That's Not What PA Sheriffs Do

New horror film highlights Patch editor's pet peeve about movies/shows set in Pennsylvania.

I saw the new horror movie Sinister over the weekend.

It's about a true crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who discovers the subject of his latest book -- the murder of a family in Pennsylvania -- is connected to a series of similar killings that have been caught on film.

Because his books have made various police departments look bad, the writer doesn't have a lot of fans in the law enforcement community.

The movie illustrates this when Hawke's character moves into his new house...and is greeted by the local sheriff. 

And this is where the horror nerd and local government nerd sides of my brain clash.

Because as much as the horror nerd side wanted to immerse itself in the movie, the side that's been writing about local/county/state government for 13 years was saying "Hey, we don't have that kind of sheriff in Pennsylvania!"

Don't get me wrong: We have sheriffs. In Northampton County, it's a busy job. They track down wanted criminals, assist other law enforcement agencies in various operations -- like Easton's Weed & Seed program -- transport prisoners, and provide security.

We just don't have movie sheriffs, who exist anywhere on TV or movies that's not a major city, and solve -- or at least try to solve -- crimes. I've seen them in movies like Signs, and on TV shows like Law & Order, Fringe and Criminal Minds.

And in other states, there are sheriff's departments that do the things local police departments in Pennsylvania do.

But this isn't about other states.

I've lived in Pennsylvania my whole life, and I sort of resent the idea that we're an easy stand-in when a movie needs a small-town setting.

Movies take a lot of work. And Sinister was better than most horror movies. It did a lot of things right. And its two sheriff characters were fairly fleshed out.

I don't expect the screenwriter to have hung out in, say, Berks County for a month before putting his script together. 

But please, Hollywood, heed my call: We don't have that kind of sheriff here.

Next time some teenagers in some fictional Pennsylvania town suspect their teacher is a werewolf, have them turn to their local police chief.


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