For your (mis)information…

Hello again, I hope you have all had a good week. The team here have definitely had a very busy one.

Something that came to light for me was the impact that misinformation can have on the community sense of safety. Let me give you an example. A wanted man fled from police custody in Cambridge one day late last week on the river trail. This resulted in a heavy Police presence. Units responded from Te Awamutu as well as Cambridge and included a dog handler from Hamilton. A local school was temporarily put into lockdown.

Such a situation naturally piques local interest and posts quickly appeared on community social media pages wondering what was going on. Understandably, it is not always the case that the true scenario is known to anyone but the police involved. This was the case that day. While members of the community may lack knowledge, it is unhelpful when people nevertheless choose to respond to social media posts by commenting what I’d call “fake news”.

I saw two instances where this occurred that afternoon, where the reasons posted bore no relation to the true situation. Inaccurate comments can quickly cause unnecessary unease, fear and further debate. I ask people to think twice before starting or engaging in any speculation, whether online or as gossip.

Related to that, I thought it would be helpful to remind everyone about the various reasons police may put a school or day-care into lockdown. While many instantly think of an armed offender posing a direct risk to the location, it may also be linked to more operational or precautionary matters.

Where a police dog is tracking for example, we want to avoid a whole lot of people bursting out onto paths, streets or other nearby areas, contaminating the track left by the offender and preventing the dog from finding them. Naturally we want to locate and arrest the person as quickly as possible. Equally, we also don’t want anyone inadvertently stumbling across an unpredictable offender’s path.

To close today, I wanted to say how good it is to see our new police base in Cambridge nearing completion. It is almost complete. I am excited to be moving to a purpose-built facility in a more central location. We look forward to moving and getting settled in over the next two to three. At this stage a formal opening is planned for the September 14.

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