Hey Kid, Stop Using Twitter During Negotiation Standoff

Crisis Negotiator Blog by Jeff Thompson

Social media has increasingly become part of crisis and hostage situations. The role social media ranges from messages being posted by the subject leading up to the incident, the subject and victims posting during the incident as well as the police, and finally the police sharing information post-incident.

Unfortunately people also post live updates of incidents that can interfere with police operations. What is also unfortunate, as this story shows, is people do not seem to realize the impact their tweets or status updates can.

Take a look at the following quote and then read the story below (Note: Greer is the person who happened to see the situation unfold from his window):

TheEagle.com- When asked about whether he was worried he was giving away the location of the officers, Greer said any man “dumb enough to involve himself in a domestic violence case of that magnitude isn’t going to be smart enough to check Twitter for a hashtag concerning police locations, but I did stop tweeting exact locations once I thought about it.”

Now read more about the story:

College student live-tweets police standoff

Houston Chronicle- College Station police on Tuesday night were alerted to a family disturbance involving reports of a firearm being fired inside a Harvest Street home.

The disturbance ended up turning into an hourslong police standoff involving SWAT and hostage negotiation teams. The incident was resolved when William Herring, 20, of College Station was arrested on charges of assault and evading arrest.

But what happened during the standoff is what is making headlines.

A neighbor, Texas A&M sophomore Hayden Greer, began live-tweeting the entire incident, down to posting details about the number of police involved, their movements, and other specific details. Greer even began using a hashtag, #LiveTweetTheNeighborTakedown, which soon caught on in the community.

Greer wasn’t available for comment on Thursday afternoon.

“We became aware that someone was posting information about police actions, so we reached out to the guy to see if we could get him to stop posting information about what we were doing,” said Lt. Chuck Fleeger with the College Station Police Department. Greer was cooperative and ceased his social media play-by-play.

                        author

Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School… MORE >

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