Police and the Media

There is a generally accepted perception that police officers and the media do not get along. That they are always at odds. That police never tell the media what they want to know — and that the media never get the story right.

Well yesterday I attended a full-day workshop sponsored by the Department of Justice, the local Department of Public Safety, and hosted by the IU School of Journalism at IUPUI. At that session, a completely different image emerged. One that belies the conventional wisdom.

Now, I must disclose that most of the sessions were “off the record.” Thus, I cannot share any details. But the overall impression is that the relationship between police and media in Indianapolis is quite healthy. No, not perfect, but not broken either.

Lest you think this was just a few folks chatting, the room was filled with the senior leadership of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the leading reporters and editors who are charge with covering the city or police activities. And they were honest and forthright in their discussions. No one pulled any punches. Yet…

It’s clear that there is a good relationship here. Yes, everyone agreed there were areas that needed improvement and they all agreed to work on those areas. Yet everyone was satisfied that the local relationship was good, and that the media was doing a fair job of keeping the citizens informed. A number of areas were addressed for improvement (who can’t find areas for improvement in any endeavor!), but overall I was very impressed.

My congratulations first to the police and media in our city who are working together well. Second, my congratulations to them for meeting like this (an ENTIRE day) to improve those relationships. And finally, my congratulations to them for dedicating effort to continue to improve those relationships into the future.

Can you write the same about your city’s relationships?

This is classic public relations. The idea that it is important to the police not only to police the streets, but the understanding that they are also obligated to inform people via the media.

Remarkable. And refreshing.


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