Law and Order Volume: 55 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2007 Pages: 74-76
This article provides guidelines for police officers who give television interviews at crime scenes, with a view toward a positive portrayal of the department.
Whereas television stations value dramatic images from crime scenes, such as body bags being carried from the scene, hysterical and angry victims, and multiple images of crime-scene characteristics, the police on the scene want to portray an atmosphere of professionalism and control. Although the police on the scene cannot always control what is recorded by an on-scene television camera, when an officer is being interviewed on camera, he/she should pick a location for the interview that fits the officer's objectives for the interview. This means avoiding backgrounds that feature elements of the crime scene, i.e., yellow crime-scene tape, street names and residence addresses, and activities associated with the horrendous nature and chaotic effects of the crime. Backgrounds and locations for the interview should provide positive images of police response and professionalism. Suggestions for interview backgrounds include marked patrol vehicles, other officially marked equipment that suggests a specialized police response (e.g., a police mobile command center), and uniformed officers involved in official activities rather than standing around.
United States of America