There is a trend happening on social media these days that has local law enforcement scratching their heads.
On occasion, people will go to social media to post something or talk with friends and family about an incident they witnessed or experienced. Sometimes these turn out to be true while others are not. In most cases, however, when these incidents take place they are not reported to the police. Regardless of the scenario, if something doesn’t feel right the best thing to do is dial 911.
Missaukee County Sheriff Wil Yancer said if a person sees something they believe is suspicious it never hurts to call the police to report it. He used an example of when he was working in the Saginaw area to prove his point.
“When I worked downstate we started having women going out to cars and they would have VHS tapes behind their back tires. They would back out and it would make a crunching sound,‘ he said. “Let’s just say there was an individual with a problem and when they would bend over to look he would take a picture of them.‘
Eventually, the police caught up with the man and he was arrested, tried and went to prison, Yancer said. Once the information came out to the public, Yancer said other women started coming forward saying similar things had happened to them.
Each time a new person would come forward, Yancer said they all would say they didn’t think it was important enough to call the police.
“If a person sees something that they consider suspicious or out of line, law enforcement would prefer they call,‘ Yancer said. “It goes back to needing the citizens’ help in keeping the community safe.‘
Wexford County Sheriff Trent Taylor had similar sentiments regarding reporting potential crimes. He said if a resident sees something that they think is a crime they should immediately dial 911, plain and simple. He also said if a person is in a store and they feel uneasy, they should reach out to a store employee, but also dial 911.
“We want folks to call if they see a crime happening. They can do their part to keep their community safe,‘ Taylor said.
Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams said law enforcement is aware of residents posting on social media or talking with people about an incident, but don’t share that information with police. While there is potential for people to exaggerate or give false information on social media, it also can be a factual account.
In those cases where factual information is not given to police, Williams said it is a difficult situation to comprehend.
“What hurts is when something is factual and true and we don’t get anything about it. We do get an extensive amount of complaints that happened a day before and then they decide to call,‘ he said. “It is important to get that information immediately and let us decide how to address it.‘
Williams said the perfect example is the recent arrest of Trevor Joseph Smith. The Chase man was arraigned last week in 77th District Court after he led police on a multi-county pursuit on an ATV while discharging an AR-15 rifle. Williams said in this case police received multiple calls regarding the incident. As a result, the police were able to apprehend him quickly.
“There are a lot of people who are of the mind that it doesn’t affect me, so it is not my job to rat them out,‘ Williams said. “It goes right along with having a neighborhood watch program. Saying something even though it maybe doesn’t have anything to do with your house.‘
While calling 911 is the best way to get an immediate response, Williams said there is another option for people who would like to report a possible crime or give a tip regarding an ongoing investigation — Silent Observer.
Anyone who would like to provide information for police but remain anonymous in Wexford, Missaukee and Osceola counties can call Silent Observer at (231) 779-9215 or 800-528-8234. Tips also may be given to the Silent Observer online at www.casotips.com. When using Silent Observer there also is the potential to receive a reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.