Law enforcement and the media relationship

Most officers say the media treat police unfairly

law enforcement and the media relationship

In the past few years, police officers have become more concerned about “a few police officers and the media have a mutually beneficial relationship that. Over the years the relationship between the police and the media has progressed and as a result this essay will examine the following areas. The impact of the use of social media in public-relation practices. . to find out whether the relationship between law enforcement agencies.

By using the police department for crime stories to print the media are using the police to help sell newspapers, gain TV audiences and other accessible public news sources which highlights the mutual reliance they have for each other. Through providing the media with limited information the police department are still keeping the general public up to date with crimes in their areas and public safety.

When there is a serious crime incident the police will monitor and limit the information the media are given to prevent damage to the investigation or those directly involved. The fact that this information has been given does not prevent the media from misrepresenting the facts.

As citied by Yvonne Jewkes Through their portrayal the police are either made to look like crime fighting heroes or ineffective and incompetent. For the public to have a positive attitude towards the police they need to feel safe from the effectiveness of their crime fighting strategies and their implementation of punitive measures.

The incident began on the 3rd July when Raoul Moat who had recently been released from prison shot his girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend. He later shot and severely injured a local police officer. Moat avoided the police and went on the run for almost a week. The media coverage on Raoul Moat was extensive and gained international media interest.

law enforcement and the media relationship

As the incident progressed and the whereabouts of Moat became known, Moats final moments were covered by live media coverage. This has since led to many questions being raised in regards to the coverage of live incidents within communities and the behaviour of the media.

An important area that was examined was the relationship between the media and the police and how it could be improved for future reference. What this highlights however, is the need for concise and the clearer exchange of important information to maintain public safety and knowledge in any given situation.

It is also important to realise the consequences of media coverage and the affects it can have on public audiences and also family members witnessing these incidents first hand. Different age groups have varying perceptions of what they believe the role of the police should be and how the media have influenced their overall perception of their fear of crime.

law enforcement and the media relationship

According to a home office report written in young people aged between years believe there is a distinct absence of communication and knowledge with the police which has led to a lack of respect. The socio-economic group aged between years believe that the police have shown a lack of concern for their fears and also when it comes to a response to a specific incident.

The majority of research that has been carried out regarding the effects of the media is done so from a positive psychological perspective. This also brought to the forefront the continual debate regarding the causal relationship between the media representation and criminal behaviour. Secondly, the change in victim crime rates or the variation in the frequency of the crimes.

Finally, have the public based their beliefs on local, regional, or a national crime rates and incidents? As a result this forms a basis for the implementation of labelling, prejudices and over-simplification of the true facts. Thus, allowing the audience to morally evaluate crime and the consequences involved. Whether the public gather their information from factual or fictional aspects of the media there will always be limitations in regards to what is viewed or written.

How the public interpret this information regardless of whether the media have shaped or had an influence on them will depend on the individual themselves. The more vulnerable they are, the more likely it is that the media will impact greatly on their perceptions within society. This can have an undesired effect on policing.

How the public view the portrayal of crime and how the police are perceived to deal with crime issues may deem their effectiveness within their practice. The symbiotic relationship between the media and the police will continue as both need each other and depend on each other for information. Whether this information is then kept quiet or misrepresented is the issue for the media and the police to seriously think about. As both their actions in terms of public communication is having an impact on individuals whether rightly or wrongly.

With increased technology developments and the freedom of information it has allowed the general public the access to information that was previously out of reach.

Police, Media, and Popular Culture - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology

In our society this now allows the main organisations such as the police force to be scrutinised by the public and calls into question the polices ability to control the news media. Policing and Society, Visibility, transparency and police-media relations. Media relations — a new era, Policing Today, March16 1pp. The news of the world special police relationship. Last accessed 28th Feb Hayward, D.

Was Raoul moats death a public execution was the media proportionate. Last accessed 24th Feb Reiner, R.

Most officers say the media treat police unfairly

Personally if I thought a particular reporter or news organization was unfair or biased against the department and didn't improve their performance after a polite warning, then the possibility that they would make their deadlines would significantly decrease! Our larger organizations have created public relations departments, which have been given the responsibility of press relations. Smaller departments usually appoint a senior officer as press spokesman. The duties of this position range from full- to part-time, depending on the extent of police operations.

Generally, the role of public relations is to respond to most press inquiries and to prepare or suggest stories for the local television, radio station, and newspaper to cover. Considering the enormous appetite for usable footage or sound bites by local television and radio stations, this service has been most welcome in media circles. In most cases, the police officer in charge of the public relations unit also serves as the department spokesman.

Increasingly, the individuals staffing the public relations office are well-trained, knowledgeable regarding the press, and in some cases, have a background in journalism. Almost without exception, these efforts have paid off quite well for the department in creating a better public understanding as to the nature of police work.

This has led, in turn, to a high degree of public support for police operations and the officers on the street. An extension of the public relations function was recently initiated in Phoenix when the police department hired an individual to be the marketing director for the department.

It will be interesting to see if this idea spreads beyond the experimental stage. I cannot find any major fault with present police public relations efforts.

Most of these programs have served both the department and the public well. If there is any minor criticism it would be that they have made law enforcement stories a very cheap source of news for local media outlets. This has resulted in a significant increase in coverage of crime by local reporters. As you would expect, this has led to a public perception that criminal acts are a clear and present danger.

At times this may be true, but more often it is an exaggeration, or a misperception of reality. If we create an atmosphere that leads to a "fear of crime," it will have a negative impact on the quality of our lives. This should be a police executive's major concern. While there is little doubt that the "fear of crime" results in much higher public support for the police, we have to be extremely careful that this support does not translate into "extra-legal" actions on the part of our officers in fighting criminal behavior.

We also have to be very cautious not to allow ourselves to be overly influenced by those in the department who would like to modify our traditional law enforcement activities with the addition of more military-style tactics and equipment. While I am sure the public, and many officers, would strongly support such modifications to our role, it is a very slippery slope.

It is, in my opinion, a very wise police executive who resists the well-meaning suggestions that the department needs advanced weaponry, super-SWAT teams, armored personnel carriers, and all of the surplus military equipment presently available.

While there is nothing wrong, per se, with any of the above suggestions, the implementation of them begins to affect subtle changes on law enforcement's role in our society. We must be vigilant in not letting overwhelming public support or new, sophisticated equipment change our traditional mission into one which might be more popular and expedient, but less devoted to the rule of law.

Additionally, both police executives and officers need to be reminded that the continued mindless pursuit of "credit" in the press for doing good work is dysfunctional.

While many of the stories we hear about law enforcement agencies trying to grab credit for a particular case are not completely accurate, there are a few agencies that still have a reputation for this behavior. It is difficult to comprehend why this sophomoric attitude still exists in law enforcement.

I suspect it goes hand-in-hand with continuing "turf battles" between agencies. It has been my experience that those law enforcement officers obsessed with either credit or turf are shortsighted to the consequences of their lack of vision.

The Role of the Chief A common rule of thumb would be the larger the department, the less direct contact the chief executive has with daily and ordinary media relations. There should be an exception to this rule when a matter arises that has an significant impact on the community or a case which involves the possible loss of public trust.

In these matters, the chief should give strong consideration to personally handling the media. The most serious matters involving a law enforcement agency are those involving an abuse of power, officer misconduct which rises to the level of public interest, and law enforcement officer corruption. The common threads running through these matters is the potential loss of public trust in the department and that incidents of this nature may have a traumatic impact on department morale.

This can be an extremely serious problem. If the given allegations are grave, the chief must decide whether to handle the public dissemination of information personally, or to delegate the matter to an individual who normally handles media inquiries. The prime objective of information release is to reassure the public that the investigation into the matter, or allegations, is ongoing, serious and will be all inclusive.

The public must know that all allegations will be properly investigated and--if warranted--the offenders will be punished or prosecuted. It is my sense that the chief should personally handle the initial release of information to the public. This action will both reassure the public that the investigation is viewed by the chief with an appropriate level of seriousness. Secondly when cases like this occur, the impact of the news on the rank-and-file is enormous.

It is a natural reaction that the police union, the fraternal order, or friends will rush to the defense of the individuals involved. These efforts will perhaps suggest to those concerned that the officers are either being made "scapegoats" or they are being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Therefore, it is necessary to immediately furnish as much information as possible to the members of the agency to reassure the rank-and-file that this will not be the case.

Only the chief can impart the message that innocent officers have nothing to fear from the investigation, or the contrary, that proven misconduct will not be tolerated.

This information should be disseminated prior to any press release as a matter of professional courtesy to the employees. Obviously, the best individual in the agency to handle the above matters is the chief. Reassuring the public that the investigation is being properly handled, while at the same time ensuring that all officers are kept informed of developments, is clearly the best policy for all concerned.

Third, cases of this type require the personal attention of the chief for four reasons. First, to ensure that adequate investigative resources can be directed quickly and appropriately. Second, the officer's innocence or guilt can be rapidly ascertained. Third, the chief needs all current and relevant information to keep the rest of the department, and the public, advised of important case developments on a timely basis.

Fourth, by being personally involved in the investigative process the chief will be able to obtain accurate information in order to successfully rebut any misinformation which may surface in the media or as departmental rumor. As we all know, law enforcement agencies can function best if the public has a great deal of trust in the officers' conduct, the judgment of supervisory personnel, and the department's policies and procedures.

Public trust, once gained, is a commodity that must be protected and nurtured by all members of the department. Using the mass media to inform and educate the public as to the daily operations and values of the department is an excellent idea.

Done properly, this public relations effort will enable the chief executive to handle adverse situations much more effectively. Mass Media and Violence There is no longer a question about the relation between gratuitous violence portrayed on television, movies, and video games and the violent behavior of children. The most direct relationship exists dramatically in what we call "copycat" crimes.

This is just the most visible link, but recent studies of the subject indicate there is a far greater, albeit more subtle relationship, between gratuitous violence and sex and the viewer's behavior.

Additionally, there remains little doubt that media entertainment is a chief contributor to the "dumbing down" and "desensitization" of our population to behavior, which only a few years ago was considered improper.

These comments are not intended to place all of the blame for violence and improper behavior on the media. That would not be either fair or accurate.

Many parents and public schools share the blame. Our culture is being dramatically changed by lousy parenting and lousy schools both of which fail to instill in young children and students the essential intellectual and psychological tools by which ordinary people make ethical decisions and lead normal lives.

However, the mass media industry, presently dominated by more than a few greedy individuals hiding behind the First Amendment, produce media products which have an appeal to our prurient interests for the purpose of profit. Extreme violence and language in movies is considered to be a necessity for profit. Television programming follows the same pattern--an appeal to base instincts.

We see a steady diet of programs which infer that parents are stupid, governments are evil, and all authority is corrupt and should be challenged. Sex, and all of its innuendoes, have been elevated to a status which obviates the need for original writing, good comedy, or compelling drama.

In the past fifty years, the great promise of television, movies, books, and other media products has been considerably diminished by the embarrassing acceptance of their products by a great number of people bent upon their own debasement, and the children they are supposed to supervise. Passing laws to outlaw sex, violence, and language in the products of the entertainment industry is clearly not the answer to the problem.

Perhaps a better answer lies in boycotting the products and the sponsors of such products. Suggesting such a boycott, or leading a boycott of these products, is a possible role for law enforcement executives. To date, only a few law enforcement executives have spoken out against the glorification of sex and violence by the entertainment industry.

Only a few executives have spoken out about the negative, or improper, portrayal of law enforcement officers by the industry in some of the movies and television shows. We should all speak out! It is a message that is not necessarily controversial.

I am quite sure such criticism by the chiefs, or our police unions, fraternal organizations, and our national organizations would not result in counter-criticism or anyone losing their job. It is a proper message to deliver and law enforcement executives should give consideration to including a message of this type in all of the speeches they give throughout the community.

It is long past time that law enforcement helped the public send the mass media a message that we expect more from the their industry than irresponsibility, greed, and the glorification of violence and depravity. Conclusion Building a reasonable, working relationship with the various forms of the mass media and law enforcement organizations is difficult.

There is not a lot a trust between members of the print press and law enforcement officers. In my opinion, our mutual suspicion of each other is probably best for the public in the long run. The print media views law enforcement with great caution, sensitive to the role they play as the "watchdog" of government and ever-mindful that law enforcement can trample all over the Constitution unless carefully monitored by zealous reporters.

law enforcement and the media relationship

The electronic media, television and the movies, are more like "lapdogs. Both industries have a great need for the cooperation of law enforcement. However, for the sake of the story, or a dollar, they will eat your heart out in a New York minute.