Sheriff says Facebook pages threaten police, scare people from calling 911

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole (WILX)
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) (8/8/2019) - Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole is calling for an investigation into Facebook pages posting police radio traffic, which he believes has crossed the line from free speech to criminal activity.

Several pages on Facebook post information from police radio traffic, but the Shiawassee County Neighborhood Watch page is drawn the most concern from BeGole.

"We get multiple complaints right now for people who are afraid to call 911," he said. "They're afraid that their addresses will be transmitted over police radios and then these people will then use it to make jokes and humiliate them over their unfortunate and emergency situations."

BeGole said people on the Facebook page also post false information about him and employees of the sheriff's office.

"Even members of my department have received phone calls, death threats since this has started up," he said. "There's people stopping them in front of their house taking pictures. There's people posting suggesting that if a member of our department is seen that people should throat punch them."

Our sister station WILX reached out to the moderators of the Shiawassee County Neighborhood Watch page, but they declined to go on camera and wished to remain anonymous.

Off camera, they said that all the information they post can be found elsewhere and they delete comments or warn people if things get out of hand.

The moderators told WILX that the page exists to keep the community informed and give people a voice. BeGole said he respects that and doesn't want the page removed, but he wants them to follow the law.

"We're not trying to step on anybody's 1st Amendment rights. That's the beauty of America. People have a right to an opinion and we respect that," he said. "But when you intentionally put the false information out there -- the blatant lies designed to harass, intimidate, or threaten people -- you've crossed the line and that's illegal."