Clinton Police work to quash social media panic

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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) – Clinton Police are asking their community to head caution after they say social media posts created unnecessary panic.

“These things were concerns but they were not actually crimes,” said Clinton Chief of Police Kevin Gyrion.

Since Jan. 9, different descriptions of four separate incidents have made their way across social media.

The first was about an incident at Walmart. A high school student described and posted a video of a man following her. She said he was looking for a ride late at night.

“I applaud those females for not only not providing him a ride, but for bringing it to the attention of the police because it is suspicious,” said Clinton Detective William Sattler.

But he added police were able to find out the situation was a misunderstanding.

“We responded, identified the person they were speaking of, he obviously acknowledged the fact that he did ask for a ride, no crime being committed,” Sattler said.

Police say the man was looking for a ride to Home Depot and he gladly accepted a ride from the officers over there.

Detective Sattler says the people involved did the right thing, and he encourages everyone to follow their lead.

He also warns social media posts can be misleading.

“Social media has a wonderful benefit to communities, but also, if people aren't really paying attention, it can create a lot of fear and panic,” Sattler said.

He says the department investigated four separate incidents circulating on social media. Three of those occurred this week between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.

Today, they posted each of the incidents on the department's Facebook page. They said they investigated each situation and do not feel there is any danger.

“We take each of these incidents seriously,” the Facebook post reads. “ We do not minimize the concerns of those involved or those who witnessed them. Our investigation has determined that these incidents do not pose any danger to our community."

Sattler encourages anyone who is concerned about their potential safety to reach out to police. He also urges caution when getting information on social media.

“That’s the benefit to our Facebook page is that we can try to put factual information out to our community to show them that this information either hasn't been proven or you know maybe even in some cases is absolutely not true,” he said.