When a woman who needed assistance with a “private matter” phoned her local Sheriff’s office, she did not expect that the police would end up posting about her embarrassing plight on Facebook. And yet, that’s exactly what they did, turning her into the laughing stock of her Florida town.
Pasco County-based Felicia Nevins and her husband spent three years trying to conceive, undergoing fertility treatments. The couple also kept a semen sample stored in a Thermos with dry ice.
At 6pm on May 18, Nevins called the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line for help. She had placed her husband’s sperm in the Thermos and closed it but forgot to remove the rubber O-ring as indicated, she explained, which could have resulted in the flask exploding.
Deputies and firefighters came to her rescue, took the thermos away and safely opened it. They were considerate and discreet, she told Tampa Bay, assuring the neighbors they had no reason to be alarmed and that they had been called about a non-emergency.
“The officer told them it was a private matter,” Nevins said, “and he treated it as a private matter.”
Much to her dismay, the Sheriff’s Office, did not. She was horrified to find out found her story had become news after the agency in Pasco County, north of Tampa, advertised her mishap on Facebook the next day.
The Sheriff’s Office succinctly explained what happened that night, illustrating the post with a stock photo of a woman looking disgusted.
“The woman advised she is trying to get pregnant by artificial insemination… and was trying to store the sperm as per the directions,” the post read.
“She stated she placed two small vials of sperm inside a stainless steel thermos, added dry ice, and closed the lid without removing the rubber O-ring as the directions required.”
“Responding deputies noted the ‘potential for an explosive due to increasing pressure inside the device.’ Fire-Rescue personnel carried the container outside using a pair of channellock pliers remove the thermos lid, releasing the pressure and removing the danger.”
While the post didn’t use Nevins’ name, it did include her age, location and the time of the incident—enough details for nosy neighbors and reporters to figure out who she was. Sure enough, that evening a TV crew showed up at her door, eager to interview her.
“I didn’t want any of this,” she said.
A day later the post, which the Sheriff say is part of the office’s social media strategy, was still up despite Nevins’ complaints. It had been shared over 200 times.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco later issued a statement to the media, explaining their action.
“We attempt to show every day what our officers see in calls and we are a very open agency about the types of calls we see each day,” Nocco said.
“This was a very unique call faced by our officers as well as Pasco firefighters … make no mistake, this was a potentially dangerous situation … we are grateful that no damage was done,” he continued.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has gained 10,000 followers since then.