POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1113595

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Page 6 of 19

an officer-involved shooting that was viewed by some commu- nity members as being controversial. "Very quickly, a segment of our community came together and began sharing information with the media that was not factual—starting to shi the story to, 'Was the officer in his le- gal right? Was this a lawful shooting? Was this a murder?' ey were saying that the officer mur- dered an unarmed person," Watson says. "So having to speak on that while you have a segment of your community who's very an- gry and upset, calling for the chief 's firing and calling for the officer or officers to be arrested, is tough." She adds that it's even tougher when the PIO team is trying to share the facts of what actually happened, but the activists' story is the one being told by the media. Watson says that following this particular officer-involved shooting, the agency decided to release the body-worn video to counter the false accounts. At the time, the agency's BWC program was in its infancy, and releasing video was an unprec- edented move, not just in Oakland, but across the country. "We called the media in—we showed it to them first. ere wasn't a setup. ey came into the room and they viewed the tape on their own. We didn't try to walk them through with a narrative, we didn't try to walk them through with timelines or a written script or an outline. We just showed it to them and let them make their own judgment and opinion and write the story. at changed the conversation in media," she says. e release of body-worn video is commonplace now, but Watson cautions that it's very important to fully understand the implications of doing so. "Not every agency has body-worn cameras, and not every agency can say, 'Let me go grab that footage and let me put it out into our public or release it to media.' We understand that. Also if you have body-worn camera footage, it may not cover the incident. e camera for whatev- er reason may have fallen off, the lens may not capture truly what happened or all of what hap- pened and so that's when I go back to listening to what the community is saying, being sensitive, and then pro- viding as much information as you can without compromising any of the active or ongoing investigations." Whether with BWC footage or in the spoken word, it's vi- tal that the agency tell its story aer a critical incident. A high-quality media relations team can do just that. n Doug Wyllie is contributing web editor for POLICE. MADE IN USA PURPOSE BUILT MISSION DRIVEN BlueRidge Armor manufactures advanced ballistic protection serving to keep law enforcement and first responders SAFE. Contact us today to discuss your customized protective armor requirements. www.BlueRidgeArmor.com • EMAIL: info@blueridgearmor.com • 844-556-6855 C R I T ICA L I NC I D E N T R E S P O N S E | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | 7 The release of body-worn video is common now, but it's very important to fully understand the implications of doing so.

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