Monday, May 4, 2020

Reservoir Police vs WLBT CAGE MATCH!

The official Facebook account for the Reservoir Police took issue with C.J. LeMaster of WLBT's reporting of the boating/sandbar action over the weekend.

Here is CJ's original report posted to Facebook at 1:10 on Sunday, 5/3/2020

Here is the full post for those that don't want to click:
RESERVOIR POLICE THANKS 3 ON YOUR SIDE FOR ALERTING THEM TO YESTERDAY'S VIOLATIONS: The Reservoir Police Department hopes to keep a closer eye on the cove area near the Ross Barnett Reservoir Outlook today after photos showed "clear violations" of Gov. Tate Reeves' safer-at-home order by various boaters, according to Bobby Cleveland, liaison officer with the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District.
Cleveland confirmed the authenticity of the photos I posted yesterday and said it's his understanding Reservoir Police arrived after most of the boats in the photos had already dispersed.
"Our officers didn't get back there until closer to 4:30 or 5 p.m.," Cleveland said, which would have been 30 minutes to an hour after I took my photos of the area.
Cleveland also thanked 3 On Your Side for the social media posts and coverage because it should deter future behavior going forward.
"We are aware of the problem there from yesterday, and I have to credit you for making us more aware of it," Cleveland said. "They were stacked in there yesterday, it is against the governor's order, and it is our intention to enforce that."
Cleveland said he understands Reservoir Police will have more concentrated enforcement there today, and that officers are trying to disperse rather than cite, but will issue citations if necessary.
He did not have information on how many boaters were cited yesterday.

The following was posted to the Reservoir Police Department's official Facebook Account about 5 p.m. on 5/4/2020:

The Barnett Reservoir was the target of Media Reports both on social media and television news over the weekend due to violations of social distancing. Please remember the Governor allowed the Barnett to reopen with boat occupancy and social distancing restrictions. At issue was a group at an area off the Natchez Trace Overlook. There were in fact a few violations in an area approximately 150’ x 400’. In one outlets own photos from the same area at the same time showed vessels spaced appropriately.
What I did not see was any reports from the same news outlets on the eight area metro Walmarts, the Metro Kroger and other grocery stores, Sams Clubs or Cosco. These locations have so many customers I won’t go there because of the concentration of people. The local media instead decided to highlight an extremely small area of the 33,000 acre Barnett Reservoir.
Finally, no one from the Reservoir Police Department talked to Mr. LeMaster so assertions he alerted our agency are blatantly false. As was the assertion the Reservoir Police thanked him for his sensational social media piece, again no one from the Police Department has spoken to him. He did have quotes from Bobby Cleveland who is a paid contractor for for the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District but does not speak for the Reservoir Police. Mr. LeMaster did as he intended, he sensationalized a hot topic to generate a media buzz. In my 14 years as Chief this is only my second time to have this type journalism from WLBT. Usually they work hard to get the full story out. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.


Unfortunately, RPD's response and the comments are emblematic of the state of political discourse and engaging others in a measured, respectful, and open manner.  Even when the underlying fact that violations of the social distancing requirements are not in dispute "There were in fact a few violations...",  RPD seems to believe it or apparently the Rez patrons are a victim for such facts being reported.  RPD [like many of us] would rather point out others' lack of compliance than objectively/humbly acknowledge our own violation.  Does the media sensationalize things from time to time? You bet.  Does RPD have a legitimate beef about someone speaking for RPD that is apparently not authorized to do so?  That sure seems to be the case.  Is Facebook the appropriate medium to air such grievances? Probably not.  Do violations of social distancing at grocery/home improvement stores excuse violations on the Reservoir?  No.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is the Rez Patrol Facebook page run by a 16 year old? Or is the entire Dept? People getting groceries and home essentials can not be compared to what happened at the overlook.

Pathetic and childish response by the Rez Patrol.