Police contradicting themselves in rumour mill de-escalation

Police contradicting themselves in rumour mill de-escalation


Following erratic updates that seem to come to the defence of some and ignore others, questions are now being raised about the police stance on clearing up rumours in the public sphere.

On Tuesday, February 21st a vague statement was delivered to the press from the police commissioner’s desk condemning what was described as rumours from ‘fake accounts’.

“The Commissioner of Police is condemning a number of offensive and false messages about members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. The messages, circulated on WhatsApp and other social media forums, are believed to have originated from ‘fake’ accounts– The content of the messages has no basis in truth and are clearly malicious in their motivation.” 

The release read, with Botting describing the authors of the message as ‘cowardly and offensive.’

The release comes days after unconfirmed rumours began to circulate about several police officers; and more recently officers of the marine branch, regiment and the Commissioner himself.

Which officers exactly the police commissioner is defending against and which specific rumours remain a mystery to the public as even under further questioning from Magnetic Media the police have refused to clarify what they meant, furthering public confusion. The only response to our queries was:

“The RTCIPF will not be commenting further on the release issued yesterday on behalf of the Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting.”

There is a marked difference in the handling of this situation and the rumours against former officer Leonie Higgs James and a Bahamian Officer employed in the TCI last year both of whom were victims of potentially career-damaging rumours on Facebook.

In these cases, the police were much more open, providing substantial statements by:

  • acknowledging the accusations levelled against the officers and;
  • even go as far as to deny the accusations or promise further investigations.

MM has been firmly told on occasion that it is not the responsibility of the police to clear up online rumours and there have certainly been times when potentially damaging rumours have been ignored by the Force, or as in the case of Higgs-James no follow-up statements were issued despite the accused being exonerated.

In this context, it’s not clear what prompted Commissioner Trevor Botting to come to the unnamed officer’s defence when others continue to be ignored.

  • PublishedFebruary 25, 2023

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