Chattanooga PD debunks Facebook post, warns public about non-existent crimes
Chattanooga Police are concerned about the power of social media and how posts of false crimes can cause panic to the public.
The Facebook post about an attempted abduction outside of a Publix was never reported to the police.
Assistant Neighborhood Chief Glenn Scruggs says it can also have a negative impact on law enforcement.
"We go out there and we spend a lot of time. Diverted from other issues that are actually going on. To chase down these leads and it ends up being a misuse of manpower and a misuse of time,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs with Chattanooga Police says social media has become a great tool for law enforcement.
"Social media can alert us with things that are going on that folks might not necessarily feel comfortable sharing with us one on one. So that's why we monitor it. We look at things like social media and all the other different platforms,’ Scruggs said.
But it could be a little too powerful and misleading.
"Once some bad information hits, by the time we hear about it, it's already circled around the world three times,” Scruggs said.
The post said a teacher escaped an attempted abduction at this Publix’s near Shallowford Road and a man grabbed a woman by her arm, but she got away.
The problem: this was never reported to Chattanooga Police.
"It's troubling. It causes us all sorts of heartburn,” Scruggs said.
They reached out to the person who made the post but they couldn't a straight answer of where the information came from.
"If they couldn’t tell me where they got that from, or if they gave it to someone that wasn't credible, I wouldn't go forward with it and suggest they take it down,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs says posting fake crimes online to cause a panic is considered a false police report because the longer a crime goes unreported, the longer the investigation.
"And if we knew about it three days after it's happened, it makes it harder to take care of it for you,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs says he doesn't discourage people from posting about a crime they've seen, but he urges them though to always call the police first in that situation.