Tuesday, 26 March 2013

RPS Shooting & Social Media Backlash

 Good morning Regina!!! 

It's a beautiful Spring day outside, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping (in Florida), and all is happy in the world of social media! Okay, maybe the last bit there is far fetched, based on recent happenings on the Regina Police Service Facebook page. Personally, I am disgusted that there are people that would stoop to the level of posting some of the pretty disgusting comments/threats that they have. That said, it is the internet, and I can guarantee any of those that actually posted those comments on their wall, are high and mighty behind a computer screen, and would never consider saying that directly to anyone, including the RPS, in person. We all need to take a step back, breathe, and think before we post (myself included). Regardless of your personal views on this situation, please, respect that there are human beings behind that Facebook/Twitter, and they are only there to do their job. That is not enforcing the law, it is to interact with you and I, via a tremendous channel like Social Media. PLEASE don't ruin this opportunity by spoiling it and tainting it with these kind of personal attacks. I honestly believe if everyone waited a day or two before posting on there, none of those attacks would have happeend.

I want to first put out my heartfelt thanks to the Regina Police Service's Social Media Guru, she is one amazing, amazing person, who I feel should be respected and commended on her ability to put a friendly face to an organization that may otherwise be viewed at as "only" the bad guys that enforce the law. Remember, they are all human, they have families, they have feelings, and best of all, there are a good number of RPS members who are as down to earth as you and I, and only are there to do their job. Yes, I know there are issues with some select staff, that I have acknowledged in the past, and hopefully that gets handled by the RPS internally. It can only happen through complaints from you and I, though, so please, if you have to make a complaint, do it respectfully. You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar, right?

I will quickly give you my thoughts on the actual situation at hand: the shooting of a family pet by an officer in the line of duty. Definitely food for thought. Who is telling the full story? Only time will tell. Unless you were there, of course, it's hard to judge. I think anyways. Officers have to make split second decisions at times, and sometimes they are the wrong ones. Was this a deliberate shooting, targetting that dog/owner? Highly, highly doubtful. Should the officers have done something other than shooting the dog? Most likely. Should we shame them for acting on their instincts? That's for the RPS and the courts to decide. With all that said, remember, they are human, they make mistakes. Sometimes, mistakes that can haunt them/us for a long, long time. I'm sure the officers involved have been shaken up by that experience itself, let alone the backlash afterwards. PLEASE take some time to let the RPS handle this investigation, and if necessary, an external investigation, to figure out exactly what happened there. Remember, there are always two sides to the story. Chances are, the truth/reality sits somewhere in the middle of those two.

Now, onto the Social Media aspect of this sad situation. Firstly, I want to say that I have personally dealt with this kind of behaviour for over a year now. Some of it through anonymous posts in a forum, some through Facebook, some through Twitter. I took my situation to the Regina Police Service in May 2012, which hindered a lot on what happened through Social Media. At that time, 3 out of the 4 officers I dealt with were tremendous and understanding. It was, sadly, the fourth officer, the one that actually took the complaint, that ruined my confidence in the RPS at that given time. Yes, I shouldn't let one bad apple affect the feelings of the entire organization, but I did at that time. Unfortunately, that officer did not take my complaint seriously, and chuckled at the thought of someone taking issue with something that happens "just on the internet". Since that day, I never brought forward any more of my concerns about this activity to the RPS, because of that one officer's actions. 

I know this may be considered mean to say, but really, I think this recent action is the best thing that could have happened to the Regina Police Service. Now, they finally see, firsthand, what can and does happen, often, on the internet where people think they can get away with anything, without consequences. Perhaps now, they might just take cases like mine much more seriously, and start actively pursuing a solution to minimize this kind of activity. You will probably never fully eliminate it, but cracking down on those that think they can do this, without consequences, certainly should help. I know that I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to experience online/cyberbullying. It is my wish to work with the RPS to address this very serious issue, and hopefully provide a common ground that can set a precedent for dealing with this activity.

I am currently in the process of working with a great local business that dealt with bullying, along with a great local organization that is working to combat bullying. It is my hope that we can all work together towards a common goal, because in the end, the problems are all the same. This is the time where I can channel any of that attention (positive or negative) from the election time towards a positive outcome. I have personally apologized to some great Regina folks on Twitter in the last day, and that is hopefully step one in a multi-step process.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please, feel free to leave constructive, clean criticism/comments all you wish.

Have a great Regina Day everyone!