Law enforcement agencies, such as our Santa Cruz County Sheriffs’ Office, tend to report crime accurately. Those who write such reports are trained on how to do so, so do not embellish with speculation or bias. Because their reports are available to everyone in the Community, they are likely to be confronted with even the slightest of inaccuracies, or anything that can be remotely perceived as an inaccuracy. It can not be an easy process.
Many law enforcement agencies, such as ours, share some of their information about crime on social media. They sometimes ask the Community for information that might be useful for a particular investigation or locating a missing person. Sometimes, they just want to alert the Community to an escalation of a particular type of crime in a particular neighborhood. Sometimes, they merely want to share a bit of what they do to protect and serve.
Unfortunately, as useful as social media and networking is, it is where all the work that goes into accuracy without speculation or bias is ignored, as anyone with any random gripe can respond with disturbingly vitriolic and typically irrelevant accusations, judgments, criticism, threats and name calling. The creativity of such comments is as impressive as the ridiculousness. The unhappiest and most hateful of people have very active imaginations.
Of course, the homeless and societally oppressed are almost always the victims of their creative imaginations.
When the Ox sculpture in Felton Covered Bridge Park was vandalized, the homeless were immediately blamed. In fact, Felton League was implicated specifically, without explanation. What was even sillier was that after witnessing the crime, one of our associates went to find someone with a telephone to call for a sheriff deputy, while another pursued the vandals until deputies arrived. The vandals, who were not homeless, were arrested.
Yes, there are a few doozies out there.
One of the all time oddest was more than a year and half ago, when the Sheriffs’ Office described on their Facebook page how they had apprehended the man who started the Bear Fire by burning down his home. Someone, who likely has serious issue with the classic ‘chicken or the egg dilemma of causality’, actually replied to that very same post by blaming the fire on the homeless!