Why the MOP approach to public statements may serve chiefs well

One possible approach to public statements after a controversial event is to state what the mission was, and why the police were called to respond to it

I recently wrote about Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross’ response to a viral video showing his officers making a trespassing arrest after a complaint by a Starbucks manager. Ross’ initial statement was clear and unequivocal: the officers had done nothing wrong. However, the ink was barely dry on my commentary when it was marred by skid marks from Ross backpedaling all over it.

I still believe that Ross’ initial response is a good model for police administrators to follow when the facts seem clear. Ross’ second statement leaves the public with the idea that the officers were wrong even though Ross blamed himself for bad messaging and misunderstanding the situation. While Starbucks was taking the heat for its role, Ross put his cops back on the front burner.          

A media statement such as the Commissioner’s press conference can fail both the public and the department. Could there be an effective approach that better serves the public and the line officer accused of poor judgement? Perhaps a priority-based model would work better. The emphasis in constructing a response would be on Mission, Officers and Public, in that order.

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