SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Shreveport police turned to Facebook Live Wednesday to respond to social media claims of people being kidnapped and harassed in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.
"What we tried to do was put the community a little more at ease," said Shreveport Police spokeswoman Corporal Angie Willhite.
During the Facebook Live, Lt. Janice Dailey made a plea to viewers saying, "Those of you who are perpetuating these rumors, because at this point that is all we have is rumors, please stop."
Back In May, a Bossier City mom's Facebook post went viral after she claimed two men followed her inside a Walmart Neighborhood Market store.
Jared Courtney Basham alleges the men followed her from aisle to aisle and left without buying anything.
"They gave them the impression that they were going to be kidnapped and become involved in human trafficking and a lot of scary stuff," explained Willhite.
In August, Tamika Oliver claimed her daughter was approached by a woman who started small talking with her about running out of gas.
A white van pulled up during the conversation, she said, causing her daughter to fear for her safety.
Shreveport police investigators told Facebook Live viewers Wednesday that they have looked into the claims and rumors and have compared notes with neighboring law enforcement agencies.
In fact, police said they began their investigation by trying to contact the very people who made those first social media posts.
"Lt. Dailey and her team made multiple attempts to reach out to those people. No success," said Willhite.
"Our main focus today was to debunk some of these rumors to make people feel safe about coming back to Shreveport," added Willhite.
They also answered viewers questions, provided safety tips and explained what human trafficking is.
When it comes to people posting rumors about a threat to the public, police said it's equivalent to someone running into a movie theater and screaming fire as loud as they can.
"It's terrorizing. I believe plain and simple you're terrorizing your fellow community members, your fellow man when you put false information like that on Facebook," concluded Willhite.
Speaking to us after the Facebook Live, Willhite also expressed gratitude to all those who have checked with them if a rumor was true before posting it on social media, especially when it has the potential to scare others.
The Facebook live event was part of the Shreveport Police Department's push to be more engaged on social media.