NewsLocal NewsSt. Martin Parish

Actions

St. Martinville Police Officer accused of sharing false COVID-19 information

Officer reprimanded, all on force in training course
St. Martinville Police
Posted at 7:59 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 20:52:48-04

UPDATE: The St. Martinville police officer who allegedly spread false information regarding COVID-19 has been reprimanded, according to SMPD.

All officers are currently assigned an online training course about COVID-19 facts from the Peace Officer Standards and Training website.

ORIGINAL STORY: Amid the coroanvirus, rumors are continuing to swirl.

Now, the St. Martinville Police Department is on damage control over one of its own officers. While the department does not believe there was any malicious intent, we're told the officer spread false information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The person was getting it from a credible source. I mean, they were wearing a badge," said St. Martinville Police Public Information Officer Adam Touchet.

He believes public servants need to be held to a higher standard, especially when sharing information about the coronavirus.

Touchet said, "We feel like the more informed you are, it will cure panic and keep everyone safe."

Chief Ricky Martin received a call from a concerned resident who heard third hand information allegedly coming from one of his officers.

"They heard a rumor that an officer had told a friend of a friend not to accept face masks because they might be laced with a chemical that could knock you out," Touchet said. "The story is very outlandish."

Hours later, the department received a tip that the same officer told residents that St. Martinville would be going on lockdown.

"That was alarming to us right off the bat. It was just false. We don't think that the spread of false information is productive at all at this time and that goes double for the men and women of the St. Martinville Police Department," said Touchet.

The Chief has addressed the mis-information with the officer.

The department posted on Facebook, reminding residents to fact check even when they believe their source is credible.

"Any information you're hearing that sounds too good to be true or sounds really sensational, fact check that against multiple sources," Touchet said.

At this time, it's unclear if the officer is facing disciplinary action. We're told Chief Martin will meet with his officer on Tuesday.