EPD Statement on Social Media Rumors

Statement of EPD Chief Travis C. Bennett:

After news that EPD and WVSP are investigating two entirely separate, isolated matters (on Randolph Avenue and in Highland Park, respectively), social media users have been sharing false and misleading information. In particular, people have been spreading rumors that EPD is aware of an ongoing threat to this community but has chosen not to issue warnings or information about it.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only time we would hold back from issuing a statement in such circumstances would be for operational security, such as if an arrest were imminent.

That’s not what is going on here. What’s going on here is what goes on all too often on social media. People hear a few details about an incident, leap to unfounded conclusions, and spread baseless rumors. These rumors end up needlessly frightening the public and complicating our investigations.

As usual, most of what is being said about these two matters is full of errors. Unfortunately, I can’t correct those errors right now without jeopardizing investigations and eventual prosecutions.

I would ask that, if you are seeing inflammatory claims on social media about some incident, and if you are NOT seeing related statements from EPD, please consider the most likely explanation. That is, the rumors are false or exaggerated, the gossips have gotten important details wrong as usual, and there is nothing to make a statement about.

The fact is, just because a serious crime is alleged to have been committed, this is not necessarily grounds for issuing a statement. We make statements when there is vital information to be shared in order to protect the community or otherwise clarify details about a situation of broad, legitimate public interest. Sexual assaults and other violent crimes, in the absence of any indication of a further threat to the public, are not in that category.

There is no ongoing threat in these two matters, which again are unrelated and isolated incidents.

Please don’t feed the rumor mill.

T.C. Bennett

Chief of Police

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