From the “What In The Ham Sandwich” Files…
Occasionally you can find me thoroughly entertained by a host of my blogging, social media and even journalism friends (all of whom, hold these posts as real and paying professions) who will from time to time, strongly debate with one another over the merits and pitfalls of utilizing social media as a source for uncovering, reporting and relaying significant news. And of course, these conversations usually end with dismissive attitudes, elitist posturing and we all inevitably agreeing to disagree.
I do believe however that we were all pretty much on the same page after I emailed this recent story around and we kissed our collective teeth in disgust as the article revealed that a Georgia woman learned of her son’s death through a Facebook message from the local police department.
After searching for almost a month for her son Rickie, Anna Lamb-Creasey received confirmation via Facebook from the Clayton County Police Department that her son had been struck by a vehicle and killed on January 24, 2013. In an array of news broadcast interviews, Lamb-Creasey told reporters that she did not know that messages from Facebook users who were not on her “friends list” could show up in an “other” labeled inbox.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Facebook user, and I think even I would have found that type of cloak-and-dagger communique enough to either hit delete or report it as spam. To think that it could have been a message about the status of my child is outrageous and simply maddening! What’s worse is that Lamb-Creasey said that she was even more confused about the message, because the Misty Hancock Facebook profile picture was actually a photo of Atlanta rapper, T.I. and his daughter at a birthday party (WHAT?!?!?! *Lil’ Jon voice*).
After twenty days had passed, Lamb-Creasey’s daughter found the unopened Facebook message received by her mother and opened it. The brief correspondence was from a person named Misty Hancock with a message requesting that Lamb-Creasey contact Lt. Schindler. She called the number referenced in her mother’s Facebook message, and it was only then that was she told of Rickie’s death.
Understandable, Lamb-Creasey and her family are upset at how they found out about her son’s death, and why no constructive effort was made to reach her sooner, and personally. A spokesman for the Clayton County Police Department said of the Misty Hancock Facebook account that it had formerly been used in an undercover capacity and was not intended to be revealed to the public. Because of that apparent breach, the department now plans to investigate exactly why it was used to contact Lamb-Creasey. The spokesperson also asserted that several attempts by officers were made to reach Lamb-Creasey, but they simply could not contact her.
Wait…what? You mean, between all the Task Forces, Undercover Agents, Detectives, Beat Cops, Meter Maids and DMV records at their disposal, the Clayton County PD couldn’t find this woman to let her know that her child had been killed!? I will say that I have a certain reverence for police officers and those who put themselves in harm’s way to preserve the safety of me and mine, but that is not this. That can’t be this! I will also say that I know that budget cuts and constraints all over the country have led to departmental cutbacks and creativity in how some officers are able to perform their jobs, so I won’t even lob a “desk jockey on point-and-click patrol while eating donuts” insult at the CCPD.
What is worth saying however is that Anna Lamb-Creasey and her family deserved better than a fake-me-out Facebook message that thank God her daughter bothered to read (again, thinking it was a solicitation, I can’t say that I would have even entertained it)! I cannot even begin to imagine the stress of living with uncertainty for almost a month, only for it to be compounded by discovering that that uncertainty was now a reality…delivered through the host site of Farmville.