Law and Order Volume: 54 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2006 Pages: 20,23-24,26
This article explains the importance and content of training all law enforcement personnel in media relations.
Although many law enforcement agencies' media policies prohibit employees other than public information officers (PIOs) from providing case-specific information to the media, some personnel take this policy so literally that they attempt to avoid any contact or conversation with the media. This can damage standing relationships built between the agency and the media and also give the appearance of being uncooperative and secretive about what the police are doing. Non-PIO sworn and unsworn personnel should also receive training in media relations. The goals of such training should be to provide understanding of the importance of positive and professional police-media relationships; to present an overview of the department's media policy; to identify the role of the PIO within the organization; and to present practical guidance in how agency employees should interact with the media if approached in the course of their official duties. The training should include examples of incidents in which the media and the agency worked together and incidents where the media and agency were in conflict. A printed copy of the agency's media policy should be presented and explained to all of the training participants. The PIO should explain his/her role in the agency. Further, practical guidance should be provided on what non-PIO personnel can and cannot say to the media. Two practical examples presented of how non-PIO personnel might have to address media issues are an arrestee's exposure to the media for pictures and possible questions and the right of the media to be present on private property if they are invited.
United States of America