Madison Police Public Information Officer Joel Despain sent out a wrap up from last week's press/police face-to-face, heart-to-heart last week. He echoes a lot of the sentiment I expressed in my posting from last Wednesday. I'll post it here for your perusal.
In other knock-down-drag-out news, the Packers preseason is going to feature Favre V. Rodgers, duking it out for the job of Packers God. I, for one, can't wait to sit back and enjoy the show. It's going to be one for the ages.
From: Joel Despain, MPD PIO
MPD & MADISON MEDIA MEETING
JULY 30, 2008 MEETING SUMMARY
TRUST: Both MPD staff and media members believe there has been an erosion of trust between reporters & police. There seemed to be a clear commitment among most to work toward improving relationships between reporters and police. Many thought this meeting was a good first step.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO BREAKDOWN OF TRUST:
Decentralization of MPD (reporters have greater challenges in building relationships with police).
Decreased media staff (fewer reporters running beats, meaning less face to face contact and perhaps fewer police sources).
Perceived lack of information disseminated in recent high-profile stranger homicides.
Media publishing/airing questionable stories about MPD staff members or cases.
Failure by other public entities to disclose information about internal investigations that have connections to MPD cases.
The need to uphold suspects’ constitutional rights & not to impede with DA’s ability to execute “successful prosecutions”.
Allowing citizens to access areas near crime scenes where media has been cordoned off.
INFORMATION FLOW TROUBLE:
Some reporters indicated it is a challenge …
1. Getting access to information after PIO hours.
2. Finding MPD staff for “on-camera” interviews after PIO hours.
3. Getting Incident Reports posted after PIO hours.
All agree more face-to-face interaction is needed. Setting up smaller, but more regular meetings between reporters and MPD could accomplish this. For instance, brown bag lunches could be held once a month – a different district each month – where command staff, neighborhood officers’ etc. could talk casually with media members.
It could also be that media members could meet with Det. Lt.s to explain what type of access to scenes they would ideally like to have.
Additionally, Officers In Charge can be given better guidance on posting Incident Reports.
MPD personnel working second and third shifts could be identified for possible on-camera interviews.