Police/Media Relations

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Police / Media Relations


This eight-hour course is designed to prepare law enforcement and communication personnel for both the everyday and the unique situations they may face in dealing with the news media.  Attendees will understand the importance of creating a positive relationship with the media and how to best disseminate agency information to the news media and the public.  The course highlights the responsibility that law enforcement agencies have to the public regarding the release of information and the benefits that can be derived by the agency by meeting this obligation (as well as the pitfalls if the agency fails in this endeavor). The course will also give attendees insight in how the news media operates, as well as a better understanding of the people that are the reporters and editors that law enforcement personnel come into direct contact with while dealing with the news media. 

The sometimes confrontational relationship between law enforcement/communication personnel and members of the news media will be explored with proven methods on how to avoid such confrontations or how to best deal with those conflicts that will inevitably still occur.  The course will cover basic media contacts such as statements or interviews on current crime incidents, critical or major incidents, press conferences, press briefings, public relations events and press releases. 

Your Instructor:  Major Rick McLaughlin is retired from the Kansas City , Missouri Police Department.  Major McLaughlin had two tours of duty as the Public Information Officer for the KCPD and has taught media relations courses to law enforcement, non-profit and business groups for over twenty years.  He is the owner of Video Perceptions, a video production and media consulting company. 

Course Content:  Students will be given instruction, case studies and a topical outline on each of the following areas: 

            The Importance of Positive Media Relations

Why it is important that a positive relationship be developed between the agency and the local media outlets and how it benefits both the agency and the public. 

The Different Types of Media Contacts

Law enforcement agencies and 9-1-1 centers have regular contact with the news media.  An agency’s personnel should understand the aspects of everything from daily contact to critical incidents and everything in-between, including how to handle the sometimes confrontational and negative contacts with the members of the news media. 

Development of Agency Policies Regarding the News Media and Dissemination of Information

Law enforcement/communication agencies need to have policies and procedures in place and in writing on how various information and media contact situations will be handled by the agency’s personnel.  This establishes the general tone of the agency regarding how its personnel will interact with the media, it also creates an environment and guidelines for agency personnel to avoid costly missteps when dealing with members of the news media. 

Critical Incidents and the News Media

A major critical incident requires special logistics and challenges for law enforcement/communication personnel (especially the Public Information Officer) in dealing with the news media.  Such incidents will not only draw all of the local news media, but also members of the national and international news media.  Being prepared to deal with the news media in critical incident situations is vitally important to the well-being of the agency, its personnel and the public. 









News Media Interviews

Preparation and techniques will be covered to allow students to deal with media interviews.  Several students will actually be interviewed on camera with critiques by the members of the class and the instructor to determine what to do and what not to do when the camera and microphone are turned on. 

Who Should Attend

This course will benefit all law enforcement or communication personnel, as any member of a law enforcement agency may have to face the news media at some point in their career.  Public Information Officers, Detectives, first-line Supervisors to executive-level Commanders and Chiefs, Dispatchers and their Supervisors and agency Legal Staff will gain valuable information on how to best deal with the news media.  A shortfall or mistake by just one member of an agency can seriously damage the image of the department in the eyes of the public and create the environment for a hostile future relationship between the agency and the members of the news media.


Additional Suggested Police Programs:

Crisis Negotiation Course (40 hours)
Police Officer Survival Tactics
Police Response to Terrorism/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents
Conducting Complete Traffic Stops - Criminal Patrol
Suicide Recognition and Intervention


This page last updated: 27 Oct 2009