BREMEN, Ind. (WANE) More than 3,000 people have shared a Facebook post that showed an unmarked police van on the side of the road behind a vehicle. On Monday, Indiana State Police took issue with the fallout.
The post, shared on the public page Anonymous Indiana on Jan. 28, drew a host of comments from users that suggested the vehicle was pulled over by the unmarked van. Dozens criticized police for using the unmarked vehicle. One user said they would have refused to pull over for the police van.
What the majority of commenters didn’t know, though, was that unmarked van was an Indiana State Police crime scene investigation unit, and the laboratory division trooper had pulled to the side of the road not to give a ticket, but to give assistance. Indiana State Police Sergeant Trent Smith said the officer was helping a man that was having problems with his vehicle.
“It seems with the creation of social media that we have lost our sense of direction as a society as it is now easier than ever to criticize, critique and jump to conclusions all while hiding behind a keyboard,” Smith wrote in a release.
There were few comments in the thread that tried to clarify the scene was not what it appeared, however the overwhelming response in the comments seemed to scold ISP.
One comment said, “This is exactly why this stupid state and the morons that govern it should make it a law that ALL police vehicles need decals and lights on top.”
Smith said the post gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons and it tore into the core values of the department: integrity, loyalty and community. He challenged people looking at posts on social media to really assess what they are looking at.
“It’s not what you look at that matters but how you see it. Do you see an unmarked police vehicle with an officer writing a ticket or an officer helping a stranded motorist? Perceptions often battle one another, and unfortunately the truth often is lost.”
Smith also noted that state troopers assist around 200,000 motorists on Indiana roads while driving more than 37 million miles.