False information causes brief panic over child in Sumter

False information causes brief panic over child in Sumter

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - What would you do if you saw a distraught young boy wandering and screaming outside by himself?

One Midlands woman, who didn't want to be identified, says she wasn't sure whether or not to call 911 on Tuesday. Instead, she and employees who were working at a business in Sumter decided to call the Sumter Police Department through their non-emergency line.

She told them the situation and received some false and shocking information that created a brief panic among community members. In fact, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark confirms that the employee who answered the call told her it could be some sort of gang initiation. Turns out it wasn't correct at all -- not even close.

"We provided them with some information that wasn't factual," Chief Roark said. "We have since put some information on our Facebook relevant to that. I would answer it is the human factor that became involved in that."

Wednesday, Sumter police said they are reviewing how their employees handle non-emergency related calls. But it led to a brief panic among community members.

Chief Roark said he's handling this so it won't happen in the future.

"So we have to look at our situation in its totality," Roark said. "Factually those things did occur with the young man. We did provide information through the non-emergency number that we shouldn't have – we have addressed that issue."

Chief Roark said the employee was not trained to give out that type of information.

The boy who created this call in the first place is okay and authorities have been in contact with him and family members.

Sumter police want to remind citizens – if you are ever in doubt, it's appropriate to call 911. Otherwise if it is things like court dates or other information, you can then call the non-emergency line.

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