Resident uses social media to post false information about 911 call

A screenshot of a Facebook post made by a Huron Township resident claims that police failed to respond to a 911 call in her community. Huron Township police say they responded with three officers within minutes of the call, and that some claims the caller made were never told to dispatch staff. Image courtesy of Huron Township Department of Public Safety.

By Scott BolthouseHub Editor

Huron Township police say a resident who lives in the Country Meadows mobile home community took to Facebook Sunday and spread false claims about a crime that was committed, and also made false allegations against the police department by saying they never responded to her call.

It all started at about 11:12 p.m. on Saturday when the woman called 911 and reported that a neighbor who lives behind her was threatening her and that she was frightened by him.

In both the Facebook post she made and in the audio of the 911 call, the woman said that the man was flicking his lights on and off inside of his house, and was pounding on his own door while she was outside on her patio with family.

In the Facebook post, the resident said the neighbor pointed a gun at her family through a window and he was threatening that he was going to rape them.

The woman also said in the post that after calling 911, police never came.

Public Safety Director Everette Robbins says that this information is false, and that police did respond to her call and that the woman never mentioned a gun being involved during the 911 call.

Robbins said his department also has a contracted police officer assigned to the Country Meadows community who patrols the area during specific times.

“Three officers with the Huron Township Police Department responded to the scene within minutes to investigate what was reported,” Robbins said. “The caller at no time advises Huron Township dispatch that there was ever a man with a gun or that he pointed it at them,” he said.

Robbins said that if the man did have a gun, it should have been an obvious piece of information that the caller would give to a dispatcher.

“There are several issues with this situation. I have no way of knowing if the man ever had a gun or if he pointed it at the family. What I do know for sure is that she never told our dispatch staff that information and I think everyone would admit that it would be pretty relevant information for us to know, if it really happened. Most importantly, if I did happen and she didn’t advise dispatch that the man had a gun, our officers were put in a dangerous situation if the man in fact had a gun and they did not know. The same goes for the threats of rape, again pretty important information to relay.”

When police arrived, they did not locate the suspect and the reported house was completely dark, Robbins said.

Officers stayed in the area for a period of time and never observed anyone matching the description or any of the reported behavior.

The caller, Robbins said, did not request that a police officer make contact with her and specifically stated that the alleged suspect did not know who they were.

“In a situation like this, we would not necessarily make contact with a caller unless they specifically request it or if they were a victim of a crime. In cases such as this, the police going to a caller’s house without being requested could put the caller in harm’s way by allowing the subject to know who called on him or her. The caller did not advise us that a gun had been pointed at her or her family or we certainly would have made contact with her. I don’t know if the man had a gun or not, but I have trouble understanding if that was the case, why the caller wouldn’t immediately relay that information.”

Robbins went on to say that the post caused some residents to question whether there is a problem with the police department responding to calls.

“We have never failed to respond to a call for service, ever. If we are wrong, I will certainly look into it and admit we failed, that was not the case in this situation. This person never contacted me to report the issue, she instead turned immediately to social media, which is disappointing,” he said.

In her Facebook post, the caller said that she was first connected to Taylor’s dispatch center, and that her call was then routed to Huron Township dispatch.

Hours after the incident, the caller posted a follow-up message in the original post thread on Facebook apologizing for the misleading post.

Source: Facebook

“Residents should know that if they call 911 from either a cellular phone or an internet based phone provider, the call will go to the nearest cell tower. We strongly advise residents to put the phone number of their local police department into their telephone to assure they get connected to the appropriate agency.”

Robbins said that having the trust of the community is a top priority for his department, but sometimes social media posts can get out of hand and create more problems than necessary.

“We have worked very hard to work hand in hand with our residents to solve problems within our community. It is a shame that people feel the need to turn to social media and spread misinformation. I feel like I as the Director of Public Safety owe it to our men and women who put on the uniform every day to correct this information and let our residents know that our dispatch staff and first responders are working hard and doing the right things to provide the quality service the community deserves.”

He added: “I just hope someday we get to the point where people don’t believe everything they read on social media. Residents should absolutely hold me and our department accountable if we don’t do the right things. We hope that the relationship we are building with our community will allow us the benefit of the doubt until proved otherwise. This is not the first time something like this has happened and unfortunately it won’t be the last. My door is always open to residents if we can help them in any way.”

This article has been updated 

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