Posting about the location of police during an active incident can put everyone involved at risk and could result in the suspect evading capture. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Posting about the location of police during an active incident can put everyone involved at risk and could result in the suspect evading capture. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

About to post a police chase photo to Instagram? Maybe don’t, cops say

Posts could be seen by a suspect and may result in them targeting officers or evading capture

You may not be aware, but you play a role in helping police during incidents such as manhunts and active shooter situations. Not only does the public’s cooperation help police, but extra attention to what gets posted online during the incidents can help keep everyone involved safe and keep suspects from getting away.

Social media has changed the game for police in many ways. The police now use it alongside traditional means of communication to convey information to the public. However, it isn’t always helpful.

“We would ask that the public not display or share the location of police officers on social media [during active incidents],” said Det. Sgt. Damian Kowalewich from the Saanich Police Department.

READ ALSO: VicPD warns downtown visitors not to leave valuables in car after large theft

Every situation that police deal with is different, Kowalewich explained. He was an active shooter incident instructor for many years and has lots of experience with dangerous, active incidents.

With training and planning, police are able to quickly assess an incident and decide how best to handle it, he said. This includes whether or not the public should be asked to stay away, how large the containment area should be and where best to station officers in order to remedy the situation successfully and safely.

While the police can’t force the public not to post on social media during an active incident, there are several reasons why it’s best to help the police by being careful about what gets posted online during an active police incident.

The location of police officers is strategic and purposeful to ensure success, said Kowalewich. The goal is to keep the public and the officers safe and arrest dangerous people. If a photo showing the location of police or a post about what they’re doing goes online, the person or people they’re attempting to apprehend could be tipped off. Then, the suspect would know how to avoid the police and evade capture or target the officers.

READ ALSO: West Shore RCMP arrest man with machete near recreation centre

While some may be aware that it’s unsafe to post about police presence during an active incident, posts about the location of traffic control officers are common online because in a way, it’s harmless. The goal is to warn others to slow down in the area because police are watching. However, this is also not advised, said Kowalewich, as dangerous drivers may not be caught because they’ll modify their driving while passing the officer but go right back to speeding later.

“Don’t let people know where we are because we’re there for a reason,” Kowalewich explained. “Give us our space and let us do what we need to do. It’s all about having a successful outcome and a non-violent outcome.”

So keep the details to a minimum, or save the photos and social media posts for after the incident is resolved.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in South Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Jason Noble and his longtime partner Marilyn Martin (Photo submitted)
ROTARY MONTH: Camaraderie, helping others fuels Rotary Club of Williams Lake Daybreak

For the past year-and-a-half Martin has served as the club’s secretary; Noble as president

Rotary Club of Williams Lake members, including president Mike Austin (second from left), cook up breakfasts during a Stampede breakfast this past summer. (Photo submitted)
ROTARY MONTH: Rotary Club of Williams Lake looking to get back to business

While COVID-19 made most of 2020 and the start of the new… Continue reading

Tribune columnist Jim Hilton captured this photo of the forest floor during a hike in the Helmken Falls area at Wells Gray Provinicial Park. (Jim Hilton photo)
FOREST INK: Forests and its connection to human health, part one

Urbanization and modern lifestyle have diminished possibilities for human contact with nature

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read