My Thoughts on “Scanner Chatter”

Yesterday, a tragic incident unfolded in a small community not too far from me.  Ox is a volunteer with our local fire department and because of that, carries his radio everywhere he goes when he’s home from work.  In the early evening an advisory went out that there was an officer down; the suspect had fled the scene in an unknown direction with the officer’s gun.  They gave a vague description of the truck and later gave the license plate number.  Nothing more was heard as my husband stepped out the door to sit with firetrucks that were moved to another location due to an event going on in the local  fire hall.

A couple of hours later, posts of the incident surfaced on Facebook.  I realized the incident happened in Three Forks, Montana, where we go to church.  My sister-in-law and her children were to be in Three Forks last night for a Sunday school activity, so I immediately called her.  I was relieved to find out that no one was at church or going to be a church.  The entire town had gone into lock-down earlier that day, which left time to contact everyone and cancel the activity.  What a relief!

As the night progressed, news crews poured out information using Facebook posts and “scanner chatter” as their source.  Before officials actually released the information, the public already knew which officer was involved and that he was shot and killed.  They even knew when the suspect was found dead and the general location of where he was found.  Nothing irritates me more than a mass of people with scanners that have no business listening to them.  Before officials can release information, they have to properly notify and contact many other people involved including family.  Information really doesn’t need to be released until those measures have been taken.  We all want to know what’s going on for our own interests and safety, but I advise everyone to be cautious of when and how they share information from “scanner chatter.”  This is entirely my opinion, but I know I’m not alone in this thought.

My heart goes out to the family and friends involved and I hope that all were notified properly before seeing and hearing what was going on through rapid spread of “scanner chatter.”

For those of you that don’t know, back in July, my daughter had a seizure.  She was a little fussy, so I set her down to go fill her sippy cup with milk and watched in horror as she turned blue from head to toe.  I wasn’t sure what was happening and thought that it could have something to do with her asthma.  I dialed 9-1-1 and was greeted by first responders who I consider 2nd family.  Within the hour, my daughter and I were in the ambulance heading to the Bozeman ER.  Many people knew about it because of “scanner chatter” and I appreciate the concern, but think about this:

One responding member, on his way home after I’d left in the ambulance, passed by my dad.   Because of confidentiality, he could not stop and tell my dad even though he thought he needed to.  Why? Because it was a matter between Ox, our children, and I.  If it was important to inform my parents, I could have told the responder to do so, or just do it myself.  My point is that what had happened was no one’s business unless I decided it was.  I didn’t need people walking and driving by the scene to catch a glimpse of what was going on.   I didn’t need listeners sharing the information with others who may not have heard it.  It’s one thing to be concerned and quite another to be nosey.

How are you using your scanner?

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