Public Information Officers and Media Relations




Rawls, Paul

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The public and the media have an increased interest in the information and occurrences in their communities. The need to acquire information from police departments has increased because of police shootings and terroristic incidents that have begun to occur more frequently. The media is on the scene and are inquiring about the circumstances surrounding the incidents as on duty police officers are trying to stop threats, contain, and investigate crime scenes. One particular incident was the Orlando nightclub shooting, which had citizens in that community seeking answers to multiple questions concerning the incident (Ellis, Fantz, Karimi, & McLaughlin, 2016). Thus, incidents like this made the need for Public Information Officers (PIOs) more prevalent to answer questions on crime scenes that the public and news media want answered. Therefore, police departments should train at least two public information officers (PIOs) to interact positively with the media during major incidents. The training for the PIOs and the legal considerations of the information that can be provided should be addressed and then implemented once a policy and protocol have been put into place. All information that is acquired by police agencies should be vetted and the information that can be released should be given out in order to update the media and the public on major incidents. The head of the agency, such as the police chief should relay information to the media but the PIO should be the second point of contact and in many cases the main point. Consequently, police agencies should have a proactive communication strategy with the media so that information is not misconstrued between the two entities. The police agency controls the information that is being provided so protocols, policies and procedures should be implemented.


Police community relations, Police and mass media