All of the police in one Colorado town resigned earlier this month. It happened all of a sudden and left residents "baffled," even the mayor didn't understand why they up and quit. A story in the Washington Post read, "If you find yourself in an emergency situation in Green Mountain Falls, don't bother calling the police."
But the story reported by national news media did not match what was really happening in Green Mountain Falls when reporter Corey Hutchins went to the little town west of Colorado Springs after seeing so many alarming headlines ("The Entire Police Force In This Town Resigned" was published in TIME).
Hutchins wrote in the Colorado Independent that "locals seemed impervious to the changes in their police department." He noted that the "police force" in the town of less than 700 people consisted of one full-time, paid chief and three volunteers.
"The town had not descended into complete chaos," he told Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel. "There was not looting in the streets."
Hutchins also writes for the news media criticism outlet the Columbia Journalism Review, and says the way the story of the Green Mountain Falls' police took off nationally is indicative of trends in modern reporting, where headlines spread quickly on social media and few outlets send reporters to investigate news outside of major cities.