Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's be careful about what we say on the Internet

If you have new information about an ongoing criminal matter, it's usually best to share that information with law enforcement. Be advised that if this is something that you heard from someone else, without any independent verification, then it may not be something that you want to share on the Internet. Some lies can feel like facts when information is scarce. Remember when Richard Jewell was falsely accused of planting the bomb that he found at the Olympics? Before you write your next blog post or say something on Facebook, you should read what John Scalzi wrote about libel.


Phil Marx said...

What if those who run the local law enforcement agencies are too egotistical to take a cue from someone outside of their clique or they are simply too stupid to make the connections? In such cases, couldn't bloggers be doing a public service by promting them to pull their heads out of their a**** and start thinking straight?

And as far as libel goes, there is a major difference between making an accusation and merely speculating. Most of what I have seen locally has been of the "what if..." or "I find it interesting that..." category - very far from libelous.

Phil Marx said...

I should also add that I actually agree with the general sentiment of your post, on both points. I think there are a lot of people who are more interested in taking credit for helping to solve a crime than in actually helping to solve the crime. I also think people shouldn't make libelous statements unless they are able to back it up - in which case it really wouldn't be libel I guess.

But my personal experience has led me to conclude that at least three of our main law enforcement agencies (FWPD, ACSD, Prosecutor's Office) do not respond well to input that comes from outside their agencies. So perhaps that is why some prefer to blog in the hopes of drumming up enough public interest that the "professionals" may actually be compelled to act professionally.

Robert Enders said...

Both you and Dan Turkette both know what you are talking about. Turkette does his homework, and you blog about what you see first hand. I'm not referring to either of you in this post. You probably were reading different stuff from what I read. I don't even want to cite what I was reading because I don't want to give it undue attention, hence the intentionally vague post.

Phil Marx said...

Yes, I did assume you were talking about Dan, so thanks for the clarification. I would use what Dan is doing as an example to further my points though. All the information that he has been digging up during the past several days about the possible connections between the family of the murdered child and the man who murdered her will likely lead to no new criminal charges. But if that was a possibility do you think any of our local yokels would even put in 10% of the effort Dan has?

I don't. And your right, I do say that from personal experience. I once heard a man in my neighborhood threatening to murder another man. I reported this to an officer that I knew - and never heard back on it. Later that year, when the man who was threatened was actually murdered, I reminded this same officer of what I had heard - and never heard back from anyone on that.

I called the police once to inform them that one of the local drug dealers was in the process of purchasing an illegal weapon from someone right in front of my home - and never heard back from them on that. And when that same kid was arrested a few months later for selling drugs to and assaulting an undercover officer, I reminded the cops I knew that this was the same guy that I had tried (unsuccessfully) to enlist the aid of their department in trying to keep him from obtaining an illegal weapon - and never heard back from anyone on that.

And when I testified in 2009 during the Anthony Parrish trial for attempted murder, I told the Prosecutor's Office that the other drug dealer they had made a deal with to testify against his friend in order to get a pass himself had been terrorizing my neighborhood for the past five years. I told them I understood the case at hand was a priority, but after the trial was over I would appreciate having the opportunity to set down with them and tell them all about the major criminal activity that has been going on in my neighborhood for the past decade - and I never heard back from anyone!!!

I think I have made my point clear, although I can provide more examples if necessary to help you understand why I think the reason this town has so many unsolved murders and other serious crimes is due in large part to the incompetence, indifference or laziness of the local law enforcement agencies.

But, as I said, your points are well taken.

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