HERRIN, Ill. (KFVS) - The Herrin, Illinois Police Department has issued a statement after several graphic pictures appeared on Google Reviews of their station.
According to police, they have made contact with Google to have the pictures taken down.
A reviewer posted the pictures on Google Reviews of the station. So many people called to report it, the dispatch lines were eventually tied down, impacting their ability to answer 911 calls.
Tracy Terrill is the internet sales manager for Ron Ward Chevrolet in Herrin. Every day she is aware of the traffic on the internet as it relates to the business.
Terrill said even though instances like this do not happen often, it does happen.
“It happened just last week, we had some fictitious names come across as an internet lead and we just disregarded it, the sales professionals come to me and let me know what had happened, we went ahead and handled that,” she said.
Herrin Deputy Chief Warren Blake said the department was “victimized by Google”.
Google reviews allow any person to post a picture or review for a business established on Google.
On Monday, Blake said the department is working to gain ownership of the Herrin Police page to better monitor and manage what’s being posted.
The IT director of the City of Marion, Terance Henry, said local businesses could become victims of the same fate.
In order to make sure your business information is accurate and only the business owner or manager has access to it, Henry recommends businesses mail google a postcard or snail mail for proper security.
“The problem is with google,” Henry said. “Google has made a website that is open and free for the public to use. and even though they designed it with good intentions, people will always find a way to manipulate the system.”
Henry gave some tips to help business owners help stop these kinds of actions.
- Create a “My Business Page” on google, for your business. Unfortunately, it’s simple for someone else to create a page on your behalf and simply use their email address as verification.
- After you create an account, be sure to request verification by mail. It may take a little longer, but you will know that google has the right address
- Turn on notifications. In the event someone makes a review, such as the lewd ones that were posted on the Herrin Police station, you will be instantly notified.
- Turn on two-factor authentication. That way, if someone tries to access your account, you will receive a code in a text message. This will prevent them from accessing your account, and alert you that someone is trying to get into it.
- If you have a smartphone, you can download the Google Business app. That way you can have faster access to your account.
- Make sure you have a strong and secure password.
With a Google Business account, you can get a 24/7 phone number, to reach a live person, that can help you in this kind of situation.
If someone does make an inappropriate review, post or photo, it can take up to seven days for google to remove it.
Herrin Police are asking that people not call the department to report it. They are aware. Calls have been interfering with the department’s ability to answer 911 calls.
Herrin PD has reported this problem to google along with the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC). Also, state police are assisting in the investigation.