False police reports add up

February 21, 2019 05:50 PM

As actor Jussie Smollett faces charges related to staging an attack he previously told police was a hate crime, several local law enforcement agencies say false reporting is not an uncommon occurrence.

"You're always going to go to an incident with the benefit of the doubt and you're going to investigate it fully and our goal no matter what the incident is to work with the victim until we find something out that doesn't necessarily add up," said Officer Steve Smith with the Albany Police Department.

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Just last week, Albany police arrested 17-year-old Tysean Bobo after he called in a stabbing and robbery on Morrison Street and South Lake Avenue. EMTs, Albany Police and Albany Fire all responded only to find out Bobo had made the fake call on a $20 bet.

"Our detectives are already tasked with a lot of cases and they have to prioritize their investigations, but when an incident that happens that's major, we start pulling resources from all units in the department and it takes away from investigations that need to take place," said Officer Smith.

In December of 2014, 5-year-old Kenneth White was choked by his cousin, dragged out of their home and his body was dumped over a guard rail across the street in Knox. Police say the initial call for help was made by 19-year-old Tiffany VanAlstyne, who said two black men had busted into their home and kidnapped the boy, driving off in a black pick-up. She later confessed to killing White, saying she didn't know why she did it.

"We had consumed an unbelievable amount of man-hours before we were able to realize that obviously, this was more of a murder investigation coming from within," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

In another high profile case, three UAlbany students said they were attacked on a bus in January of 2016, calling it a hate crime. Police responded and investigators worked the case. They found surveillance cameras on the bus captured a different scenario. The three black girls can be seen attacking a group of white students and heard bragging about it.

"You often wonder why people do it. Is it a mental health issue? You're trying to gain some sort of notoriety or something? I don't know, but it's foolish and unnecessary," said Apple.

In addition to man-hours, it can take months for the district attorney to prosecute these cases. However, Sheriff Apple points out the damages from these false reports can be much bigger than dollar signs.

"Think about the dozens of law enforcement that are responding with lights and sirens, passing cars, everything they can to try to save this little boy and to find out the whole time he was across the street, dead in a ditch?" said Sheriff Apple.


Jacquie Slater

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