It did not take Sumpter Police officers 2 ½ hours to respond to a traffic accident last week, despite published reports.
Sumpter Township Director of Public Safety Eric Luke corrected the erroneous information during the Sept. 28 meeting of the trustees. He said that a local newspaper had printed an account of a Sept. 12 traffic accident on Judd Road claiming that police did not respond until 11 p.m. to an 8:30 p.m. accident.
Luke said that the dispatcher received a report of the vehicle crash and was informed there were no injured parties at the scene.
“At that time, we were responding to two higher priority calls,” Luke said. “One was a suicidal juvenile and the other was a drunk driving arrest.”
He said officers responded to the scene of the incident in question within 30 minutes and determined that a tire had blown out in one vehicle involved. He said there was a great deal of yelling at the scene as the passenger in one vehicle was drunk. Officers located the second vehicle involved in the incident very close to the scene, he said.
“I want to make sure the public knows that we will always respond. We were there within 30 minutes, at 9:02 p.m. We are proud of the response time in our department. Only a higher priority call will delay our officers,” he said.
Luke said it was “dangerous” for anyone to think it took police 2 hours to respond to a call.
“We did our job,” he said. Luke said it would have taken less time for the writer of the misinformation to reach out to him to get the correct response time than it did for “her to type it for publication.”
Trustee Matt Oddy said this was more of the unfortunate misinformation repeatedly being published.
“This was printed in a heading of Extra Things I Know and people think it's true and that the editor actually knows,” he said. He asked township attorney Rob Young if the township had any legal recourse in light of the misinformation and lies being published.
“The township has no standing to sue,” Young said, “but individuals have standing. It is a tough legal standard.”
“I feel your pain,” responded Trustee Tim Rush who was awarded a financial settlement from the publication earlier this year as damages for the publication of falsehoods.
“This is like terrorism” Oddy said. “There have been dozens and dozens of false allegations, week after week they keep coming. We have a passion for this community and I will continue to defend our employees and our residents.”
Township Supervisor Tim Bowman was also critical of the publication.
“I don't like being called a liar and a thief. I have been advertising in that paper for 30 years or longer. I took all three of my ads out this week. I don't plan on ever advertising in that paper again.”