Why I Didn't Post Live Updates/Pictures From the Situation at Six Trails

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Why I Didn't Post Live Updates/Pictures From the Situation at Six Trails

I've had people ask why I didn't share information about the police situation at Six Trails Apartments.

For one, I had left my phone at home while walking the dog and missed a couple of texts from people telling me of the situation. On the way back to my house, I saw an Ann Arbor police cruiser with its lights flashing on Ann Arbor Street.

When I got in the house I had a lot of catching up to do. One of the first things I did was post a question about the police car on the Saline Posts Facebook group. At this point, it was a curiosity and my plan was to head to Livonia to ref a ball hockey game. Then I saw a couple of Facebook messages about an armored vehicle. And then I saw 30-minute old texts telling me about a potential barricaded gunman. Then I saw that I'd missed a call from someone in the emergency field. I returned that call and I learned police didn't want me to post anything on social media or on the website. I don't usually take kindly to government requests to suppress information - but with emergency workers, I think there's another standard.

So I quickly deleted my post. Police feared the situation was potentially volatile, and that posting pictures of armored vehicles and SWAT officers who looked like soldiers might trip the situation.

I arrived at the scene and saw residents being turned away. At this point, not broadcasting is becoming a more difficult decision. And, to my mind, somewhat futile. My phone was blowing up with people asking questions. As I suspected, posts were already being made on Facebook, including our own Saline Posts Facebook group, and other social media channels,

I learned from an officer at the scene that Police Chief Hart was on duty so I called him. He confirmed he wanted me to keep things quiet, for the safety of police, the residents and the man at the center of the situation. I relayed my thoughts about the futility of trying to keep things quiet in the age of social media. But I agreed to his request, because he knew more about the volatility of the situation than I did.

The situation ended well. Nobody was hurt. And that's the main thing.

Still, I wonder if there was a better way to serve the public interest than radio silence. 

Could the public interest have been served by posting a quick piece saying there is a police action taking place at Six Trails Parks and residents are advised to stay in their homes, or not return home until further notice. Such a notice, without posting the alarming pictures of SWAT team members and armored vehicles, might serve the public interest without throwing gas on the fire.

It's a question I'll think about and be ready to ask of police next time such a situation arises. 

If you have any thoughts about information you want to know during events like these, please post your thoughts below.

In my opinion ...

... these are not questions best answered by (opinion) polls.

Not even sure it's good fodder for the Forum here or on Facebook. 

You've asked some great questions. But they're not questions best answered in the moment. There's a first time for everything. Hadn't thought about this scenario? hadn't come up before? When in doubt, defer to law enforcement and first responders.

When the dust settles, I'd like to see you sit down with Chief Hart and put all of these questions (and perhaps others that flow from them) to him. Then account to your readers with a front-page article on The Saline Post.

That's my opinion.

My job is information to

My job is information to readers. It's important to understand what they believe they need to understand my responsibility.

That's not putting it out for a poll. It's trying to have a conversation.

Six Trails situation

I agree that sitting down with law enforcement to establish future guidelines would be helpful.  It seems like there could have been a short piece informing the public about potential danger without going into detail.  That may have prevented some unnecessary rumors.

Great point Sue.

Great point Sue.

The more good information you can disseminate, the less fuel for rumors.