Ask the Chief

Public Safety VS Social Media

For the last several years, organizations, both public and private, have struggled to provide safety to their respected stake holders while contending with developing social media platforms that often share false and alarming information.

This issue can be seen not only at the national level with media groups such as CNN and Fox news but also at the local level thanks primarily to cell phone messaging apps and Facebook.

Recently, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience this first hand. While I am not at liberty to share details I can provide the following synopsis of what occurred.

The situation originated with a person making a threat against another person. Upon learning of the threat the organization responsible for security took immediate actions to ensure the safety of their stake holders along notifying the Minneota Police Department.

Before I could even begin to investigate and perform a risk assessment, I discovered that a panic was ensuing and information was being shared that ranged from nominal to outrageously exaggerated.

The false information slowed the investigation and made it difficult to determine what really occurred and who was actually involved or had reliable information.

It is very important for people to understand that the sharing of rumors can and often does make situations more dangerous. Think of someone running into a crowded building and screaming fire.

The fire is not what ends up causing the most injury, rather it is the panic created that causes people to stampeded and trample each other while evacuating the building.

This is what texting apps and social media have become.

When you pass on information that you have not verified you are becoming part of the problem.

Words MATTER. How you say something and the words you choose to use have a significant impact on how others will respond.

Do you remember the game of "telephone" when you were a kid? The game started with a line of people.

The person at the front of the line whispered a message into the ear of the person next to them.

That person would then repeat the message to the next person and so on, down the line.

By the time the message reached the last person it had completely changed from the original version.

This is EXACTLY what happens when we jump on social media and start sharing information.

Going forward I encourage everyone to exercise discretion and maturity when they learn of something that concerns them.

Before texting or going on social media ask yourself if this will help or hurt the situation.

If you believe you have important information then contact the authorities rather than sharing it by text or social media with people who may not have the ability to address your concern.

Teach this lesson to your children as well. What we don't need is people sharing hearsay information while adding their own take to it thereby furthering the false and misleading story.

Minneota Police Chief Bill Bolt

Contact Us

The Minneota Mascot
Address: 201 N. Jefferson
Minneota, MN 56264

Phone:(507) 872-6492