As a civilian police employee, Joyce Uribe collects patches from police departments all over. In the last couple days, she's started collecting something else. "I've received several emails and phone calls from friends and citizens regarding the email," she told us, referring to an email circulating around our area a lot lately.
It claims to originate from an officer, warning drivers not to signal cars driving without headlights. As part of a gang initiation, it says, the driver will shoot at anyone so signaling. "It is completely bogus, it is not true," said Uribe. "And we're trying to get the word out."
This kind of panicky hoax is nothing new on the internet. But the reason people sometimes fall for this one is that it refers to the local police department by name, making it seem specific to a problem in our area.
Official public messages from police are posted on the department's website, which should be your first stop to check what's going on. To check if the message falls into the internet myth category, there are a couple handy online resources (Snopes, NetSquirrel, Urban Legends at Atbout.com) that cover everything from emails that promise free stuff to those that spread panic.
Still, this latest scare tactic has been keeping Savannah-Chatham police employees busy with calming worried citizens. "They sound relieved, but when they first call, they're really concerned," said Uribe.
If you see this one in your inbox, you're urged not to forward it around as police work to protect us from the real dangers.