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June 15, 2022 | View as webpage | Too many emails? Update Subscription Preferences
Leaders,

While body cameras have been a fixture in many departments for close to a decade, the 2020s will likely be remembered as the era when body-worn cameras became essentially universal. Not only does a whopping 93% of the public favor their use by police officers according to a Pew Research Center survey, but in last year’s Police1 State of the Industry Survey, 82% of officers likewise want to wear them on the job.

But it isn’t just legislation that’s constantly evolving. The technology itself is continually adapting, giving departments capabilities they never even knew to dream of. Yet with greater choice also comes greater due diligence responsibilities.

To help agencies stay up to date on the procurement process and the evolving applications of bodycam technology, Police1's 2022 guide to body-worn cameras, sponsored by Utility, highlights what agencies need to know about body-worn cameras in 2022 and beyond. Download your copy today.

Stay safe,

— Nancy Perry
Editor-in-Chief, Police1
 
FEATURED CONTENT
How to effectively participate on boards, task forces and committees
By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D. 

Having a law enforcement presence on boards, task forces and committees is essential for effective police-community involvement. Examples of where I have served include a substance abuse task force, the domestic violence prevention group, a child abuse review team and a behavioral intervention team.

How do police leaders maximize the value of these connection opportunities? Here are some tips:

Determine if you can absorb the time commitment

Boards are notoriously sluggish when it comes to taking action. Some were established with no terminus in mind and continue in perpetuity. But even an ineffective board can have value for police departments regarding increasing visibility and building relationships.

If the meetings are too frequent or too irregular, especially for an officer doing shift work, it might be better to decline involvement and keep in touch rather than be a consistent no-show or always sending a sub with no background on the matter.

Know what you are authorized to commit

Can you promise that officers will participate in an event? Are there funds available from your agency or auxiliaries to contribute? Can you host meetings at your facility? If you can make a commitment, have a record of the authorization from the chain of command to avoid embarrassing scheduling conflicts.

Recognize cultural differences

We often think of culture as being race-based, but small businesses and fraternal organizations have a culture as does law enforcement. A police officer on a board may display authority, black and white answers, focus on the downside of a plan, or become impatient when action seems stalled. These aren’t inherently bad, but LEOs are used to taking charge, focusing on priorities and using coercion to meet the mission.

Community activists may be overly optimistic, other government agencies may be overly cautious, politicians may be motivated only by voter appeal and good publicity, long-term residents can resent newcomers, and ordinary citizens may be overwhelmed by the complexity of problems and their solutions.

Be willing to be subordinate

Your very presence may say all that needs to be said. Your perspective and ideas may be rejected. You may be asked to do something simple like clean up after an event instead of being in charge. Your willingness to serve is likely to have a long-term impact. This may start by taking a chair at the foot of the table instead of near the chairperson or contributing a snack for the meeting.

Be a sponge rather than a speaker

Listening and taking notes is a vital component of being on a committee. Your expertise will be of significant value to the group, but sometimes letting others add to the conversation gains credibility in the long run. If you truly want to be a person that others listen to, speak only when you have something significant to add. Open ears, words of affirmation and saying “thank you” for others’ opinions, will grant you more attention than weighing in on every agenda item.

Be positive

Plain speaking with directness and confidence is a valuable trait for LEOs on the street and police leaders. You often don’t have time for diplomacy, and your authority is always available as a tool for compliance. Collaborating with others with diverse interests and perspectives requires a more refined communication style. Asking questions rather than making declarations, avoiding “we tried that and it didn’t work” or “that’ll never work” and expressing what might be challenges or obstacles instead, and expressing appreciation for every voice in the discussion will help you maximize your influence.

By the way, whenever possible, turn off your radio and go out of service to avoid the background noise we are used to, but others aren’t. Keep your cell phone off the table and out of your hand. Wear soft clothes at least sometimes so people can see beyond the badge. You don’t need to give up your identity as a police officer, but it might be a good time to dial back that command presence you’ve spent a career cultivating.

NEXT: How to establish community TRUST

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Keep these 3 phrases out of your news release's first paragraph
By Adam Myrick 

While there are varying degrees of news fit for a news release, the minimum requirement for a news release is – by definition – NEWS.

I like David Zeeck's nonacademic definition of news from a Poynter Institute column: "News is information I need. It’s intelligence that gives me an edge over the competition. It’s knowledge to help me prepare for the worst. It’s facts that set me straight, trends that show me where things are headed, and predictions that may (or may not) come true. It’s wisdom that helps me live better."

There's hard news, soft news, feature news and feel-good news. There are news releases about award recipients, corporate mergers, product launches, medical breakthroughs and deadly police investigations.

News releases should convey news. That's a present tense thing. What's happening now and what's the latest development? Answer those questions for your audience in the opening sentences of your news release, also known as the lead.

Your audience isn't reading your news release for the chronological history of the release's topic. News releases aren't sequential. They aren't the right place for a "first this, then that, finally this other thing happened" style of writing. A well-written news release should look, feel and read like a news article.

Keep it present & active

Quotes, assertions with attribution and short sentences written in the OTPS model (One Thought Per Sentence) all make a news release tighter and more readable.

But, just like a news article, a news release should begin with a punchy, present tense, active lead.

To make sure your news release lead is all of those things, always avoid starting with these three phrases.

  1. At approximately ...
  2. Just before ...
  3. Right after ...

You'll never read a news article about a meeting between two heads of state that starts with, "At approximately 8:27 a.m., the prime minister embarked for the airport to board a plane for Arendelle. He landed just before 10:30 a.m. Arendelle time. Right after stepping off the plane, he was greeted by her royal highness of Arendelle."

Those phrases look back in time. Your audience doesn't want to look to the past. They don't want a sequential retelling. They want what's new and important. Starting a news release with these three phrases immediately puts you behind the eight ball in writing compelling, current copy.

A better lead for our news release about two heads of state meeting in Arendelle might read something like this, "Major peace talks are underway in Arendelle after its monarch welcomed Spain's prime minister in a ceremonial arrival this morning at the nation's only airport.

When a public safety news release begins with, "Just before 11 last night," it's chronological from the get-go. That's unfortunate for the audience because they likely won't get to the "real news" of the release until the fourth or fifth paragraph. That's too late and too far down.  

Stick to the 'yes' leads

With a public safety news release in mind, take a look at these alternative constructs that feature present tense leads and avoid the terrible, time-based trio:

  • No: At approximately 10:39 p.m. last night, officers responded to 123 Main Street in reference to a call of shots fired.
  • Yes: Officers are searching for a gunman who shot a woman to death late last night on Main Street.
  • No: Just before 9 this morning, officers were called to the 2100 block of West Avenue after a 911 caller reported a suspicious person in the area.
  • Yes: Investigators are interviewing neighbors and asking for tips about a suspicious person reported this morning in the 2100 block of West Avenue.
  • No: Right after arriving on the scene of a domestic dispute in the 100 block of Hampton Road, officers drew their service weapons in response to a man pointing a gun at them.
  • Yes: Talks between police crisis negotiators and a man who pulled a gun on officers continue on the scene of what started this morning as a domestic dispute.

The "yes" leads above make the events current. They tell the audience what's happening now. That's nearly impossible to do when starting a news release with one of the three time-based phrases I suggest you avoid.

And, one last tip. Take a second look at the "yes" leads above. See what I did with the time-based phrases? I tucked them within the lead, rather than at the end. Working in phrases such as "this morning," "last night," "earlier today" and "yesterday" within the lead, rather than leaving them dangling at the end, makes your copy read better and more current.

There are other time-based phrases to avoid in the lead of a news release, or anywhere in the body, for that matter. Which ones do you stay away from? What tips do you have for writing present tense, active news release leads? Email editor@police1.com.

NEXT: 5 steps for improving police interaction with the media

spacer.gif Top Tweet: Crisis Response

 
spacer.gif BE ADVISED

3. 'Care not cuffs': On this episode of the Policing Matters podcast, the discussion centers around how to connect individuals with mental illness with community partners to achieve better health outcomes.

2. How a mental health co-response term maintains community safety: The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Sciences Unit has launched a successful program supported by law enforcement, public officials and the community.

1. Using VR to train officers in mental health crisis response: Researchers are using technology to help train Ontario police officers on how to respond to mental health crises.
 

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