COLUMN: Law Enforcement Must Cooperate in time of Crises

COLUMN: Law Enforcement Must Cooperate in time of Crises

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Unlawful actions and misconduct by rogue police officers are creating a serious negative image for law enforcement and a significant and unbudgeted financial expense for the governments they serve. For years, police who protect and serve were held in the highest regard by the public. However, because of social media and the Internet a negative story about police misconduct today instantly becomes national news across the country and throughout the world.

 

The misdeeds of a few can become a catalyst for disruptive and even violent protests and demonstrations. Every city, county, state and federal law enforcement agency is vulnerable to a crisis. These crises are exacerbated when those in charge fail to promptly and properly communicate to the media and public.

 

Unfortunately, most are not prepared when a crisis strikes according to Rene A. Henry, author of Communicating In A Crisis. “Too many in charge are in denial that they will ever have a crisis and the way so many have been mishandled is damaging the credibility and reputation of all police and causing the general public to lose confidence and trust in all law enforcement,” says Henry. “A law enforcement agency that is prepared will be prepared and have plans for all anticipated and generic crises.”

 

Henry’s book tells how to prepare and organize a crisis team, how to identify and develop a plan for every potential crisis, the 10 steps to take during a crisis, and how to manage communications. “What is said, how it is said, when it is said and who says it is critical in a crisis,” Henry adds. “Timing is critical and when potential crises are identified generic news releases can be prepared in advance so there can be an immediate response. The longer the delay in respondin the less believable it will be. Potential spokespersons must be identified and given media training.”

 

He believes it is important to understand the philosophy of Saul Alinsky, a proponent of non-violent disruption, in order to anticipate, be prepared and manage protests and demonstrations. “Alinsky’s writings are a step-by-step how to for protesters,” he says. Scores of anecdotes and case histories from actual crises highlight his recommended dos and don’ts for the reader. His book also outlines working relationships between lawyers and public relations counselors before and during crises.

 

In addition to police misconduct, Henry cites five generic crises: terrorism; acts of Mother Nature including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tornados; sexual harassment and discrimination; violence in the workplace; and environmental pollution. A chapter on customer service stresses its importance in helping prevent crises. “Trust, credibility and goodwill must be banked in advance and there must be transparency to have public support,” he says. Another chapter tells the reader how to fight back and win in situations when officers and a department have been wronged or maligned.

 

The book is recommended for all police chiefs, and senior management, public relations practitioners and lawyers in law enforcement agencies. Communicating In A Crisis sells for $34.95 in paperback from Amazon.com and $9.95 on Kindle. Henry has authored 10 books, and writes of a variety of subjects, many of which are posted on his website - www.renehenry.com

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