I consider myself a relatively smart person, cautious, guarded and take steps to protect my privacy and safety.
In July of 2016 I had just returned home from my annual Cape escape. A few nights after returning from vacation I found myself sitting in a hot and heated city council chamber. Before the evening was over I had volunteered to lead the charge to reopen the budget. We had a very short window to collect signatures. No problem I thought. We have a tool right in our hands…..social media!
I broke my own rule. I never added people I did not personally know and I never shared or posted “public”. I also contained my audience to “friends” but time was short and this seemed to be the most efficient way to get messages out.
Once the budget issue was resolved I weeded out lots from my “friend” list. I went back to posting to just friends.
Fast forward to December 2016. A few days before Christmas I was wrapping presents late one night. I get a text from a friend I have known for almost 20 years. He wanted to know what the deal was with this woman on my Facebook page. She had tried to add all the people he works with. Then he pointed out she had close to 400 mutual “friends” with me. I thought that was very odd but got busy with the hustle of the holidays and had kind of forgotten about it when another friend called in mid-January and said this woman was trying to add him. He grilled her and she withdrew the friend request. By this time my detective hat was on.
Then I did something my father would have killed me for doing. I met this woman for coffee. I wanted to see what her deal was. Yes, it was stupid looking back. I did make sure to meet in a public place and I was texting a friend while I had coffee with this woman.
My suspicions were confirmed. Something was not right with her. The following day I posted something on Facebook and literally 2 seconds later she posted what I had verbatim. My creep factor went way up and I put her on a restricted list. I immediately received a message from her asking why she could not see my friends list. I deleted her. Another message followed. Why did you delete me? Block! Then the text messages came. I blocked her there too. Then I started getting messages from people I did not know asking why I had blocked this woman.
Since January this person has created fake accounts, tried to friend me through those false accounts, attempted to pose a business client and then began posting lies about me and my business when I refused to engage in her foolishness. I have gone to police three times about her non-stop harassment and am in the process of getting a protection from harassment order from the court.
I was stupid. I could have avoided this 11 months of hell and hassle. Yesterday, I learned I was not the only “smart’ person who had made this stupid mistake. Another friend has endured the same kind of issues with this woman. We’ve discovered no less than a handful of fake accounts (all her pretending to be someone else.)
Social media is a great tool- when you use caution! Please don’t make the same mistake we did. Make sure you know who you are adding to your social media accounts. And if something makes your hair stand on end trust that instinct.
I was honored last week when the founder of Serve & Protect asked if they could publish a piece I penned last winter about growing up a police kid. Serve & Protect is a non-profit based in Brentwood,Tennesee. Their mission is providing trauma support of public safety personnel. I have had the pleasure of getting to know the founder of this great group, Robert Michaels, over the last month or so. We've exchanged a number of emails, phone calls and text messages.
When Rob and I first chatted nearly a month ago, he asked what fuels my passion for this issue. I told him it is rather simple. It's personal. I grew up the child of the local police chief. I explained the significant amount of time I spent over the last legislative session working on a bill to make post-traumatic stress disorder a rebuttable presumption under the state's workers' compensation law. The bill was signed into law in July and takes effect November 1.
Four issues could be on their agenda when they meet on October 23rd
-A bill regulating retail sales of marijuana
- A conflict over a ranked choice voting law enacted by voters in November 2016
-The legality of a food sovereignty bill
- Funding gap affecting the Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems
During the first regular session, the legislature passed a first-in-the-nation food sovereignty law which allows municipalities to regulate food systems including production, processing, consumption and direct producer-to-consumer exchanges, which are currently regulated at the state and federal levels. The U.S Department of Agriculture says the state must maintain meat and poultry inspection programs that are “at least equal to” federal rules.