In a world of 24-hour news cycles and the public demanding information at the soonest possible time, the importance of Public Information Officers in law enforcement is made apparent. This session features a panel discussion of public information and communications professionals and experts to explore trends, challenges, solutions, and related topics surrounding communications and media relations in the law enforcement setting.
The panel is composed of:
- Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), award-winning photojournalist, and uniformed reserve deputy sheriff
- Nelly Miles, Public & Governmental Affairs Director for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)
- Katie Nelson, Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator at the Mountain View Police Department in Northern California
- Michael Parker, An International Strategic Communications Advisor for USDOJ ICITAP, and a retired Commander from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Topics covered in this webinar include:
- Local and national trends observed in terms of streamlining media access and press passes, the high demand for information, the public’s preference for images and videos in the information they consume, and the lack of experienced public information officers to accommodate these trends.
- Challenges related to the evolving nature of journalism in terms of distinguishing official journalists/media from citizens given that everyone has a cellphone/camera now.
- The issues in terms of safety and risk that comes with the broader access.
- Changes in communication strategies given the increased number of people claiming to be journalists.
- Ways to reduce the chaos that comes with the challenges by:
- Having conversations between involved entities beforehand to lay out policies and protocols when a critical incident happens.
- Ensuring that the media has equal access at a minimum as public to any scene.
- Humanizing the relationship with journalists by looking out after them and developing rapport and trust with them to demonstrate that you see them as allies and not adversaries.
- How the speed of news impacts relationship building.
- Facilitating internal relationships with agency personnel to ensure that information is provided as available without jeopardizing the nuances of investigative and law enforcement work.
- Providing media with meaningful information as it is available to be able to be on top of the narrative and prevent a bigger problem that comes with misinformation.
- The types of training that agencies are providing to officers in-house or through accessible third-party/online training providers related to First Amendment rights.
- First Amendment Auditors: What are they, how to best deal with them, and case law references to best navigate First Amendment issues and create policy and training on media rights and limitations.
- A rundown of the best trainings and conferences to broaden knowledge as well as network with other professionals in the field of public information, communication, and media relation.
- The importance of having a dedicated person working on public information, media relation, and communication and how it can impact the organization’s reputation.
- How journalists and law enforcement are allies, not adversaries, with the goal of informing the public and building public trust.
Points raised during the Q&A are about:
- Orchestrating meetings with news organizations’ staff and/or leadership to facilitate that relationship-building.
- Engaging with vloggers and podcasters.
- Katie and Nelly’s team and the tasks that are part of their roles.
- Concerns surrounding public traffic cameras that turn away from the original spot it captures when crashes happen.
- Recommendations for policies for video drone use.
Other Webinars with these Speakers
- July 26: Balancing Operational Challenges of Law Enforcement with First Amendment Rights
- Nov 8: Frenemies: A PIO Discussion Panel about Rights and Limitations to Record, Report, and Official Duties (this webinar)
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Irizarry v Yehia 10th Circuit
- Handout: An Update on the Right to Photograph and Record in Public
- Handout: State of NJ Attorney General Guidance: Interactions between Law Enforcement and Press at Public Protests
- Handout: Police-Press Relations: The Easy Way or the Hard Way
- Handout: Oakland PD Revision of Training BuilletinL Crowd Control and Crowd Management
- Case Referenced: Sharp v Baltimore City Police Department
- Recommended Training: IACP PIO Section
- Recommended Training: National Information Officers Association
- Recommended Training: FBI LEEDA
- Resource Referenced: IACP Public Recording of Police (PROP)
- “Discussion of “who is a journalist?”; 1st Amendment auditors; issue of contract news gatherers; use of drones to gather news.” — Denis
- “Deposits in the bank of community trust. It’s a great quote, and a great operational guideline, and I’ll be sharing it with my command staff later this month.” — Diana
- “Hearing examples from current members of law enforcement relating to the topic. I have personally seen Nelly Miles speak before and the weight of her words is invaluable. I also follow Mountain View PD on Facebook on a recommendation that Katie Nelson is of the top in her field of PIO.” — Katie
- “Every speaker had valuable input on the specific subject matter. I appreciate the insight.” — Marcella
- “Great to hear about how other agencies are dealing with the change in local and national media.” — Bryan