In this column we've consistently emphasized the value of law enforcement working with the media so the media won't work on you. We've repeatedly stressed the importance of cooperation rather than confrontation in successful media relations. More and more agencies seem to be recognizing that mutual effectiveness is possible, that law enforcement and the media may never walk hand in hand, but certainly can work shoulder to shoulder. Here are three more great examples that underline those critical messages.
The Bob Hardy Award
This award has been presented each year since 1994 to a newsperson in the St. Louis metropolitan area who has shown exemplary professionalism in coverage of law enforcement. The award was established by the Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission (SILEC) and the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association, in memory of the late veteran St. Louis radio newsman Bob Hardy.
According to SILEC director Roger Richards, Hardy "established himself as a competent, fair and impartial news journalist... [and] was a friend of ethical and effective law enforcement." Richards continued, "Because of Bob's reputation as a `straight shooter' when dealing with law enforcement issues," the award was established in his memory, to be given to other journalists who have "displayed similar professional traits throughout [their] media career[s]."
At a banquet on January 17th, the 2001 Bob Hardy Award was presented to St. Louis TV newsman John Pertzborn (KTVI Fox 2 News). In nominating him, St. Clair County, IL, Sheriff Mearl J. Justus cited Pertzbom's "excellent reputation... for reliable fairness and accuracy" and his "exemplary service toward the upgrade of public safety, law enforcement and the administration of justice in the St. Louis Metropolitan area."
I congratulate Pertzborn, and I applaud SILEC and the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association for recognizing the value of acknowledging the good work that the media frequently produce and the professionalism that many reporters demonstrate on a regular basis. In past columns- and in every class that I teach around the country- I've underscored the importance of law enforcement complaining when the media treat you unfairly; holding the media accountable is the smart and right thing to do. The other side of that coin is equally smart and right: give a reporter a pat on the back when he or she has done a good job. Whether it's formal recognition such as the Bob Hardy Award, or simply a quick phone call to give a journalist a thumbs up for reporting your story fairly and accurately, acknowledging media positives is every bit as important as holding the media accountable for the negatives if you are going to build solid and effective working relationships with the media.
Reno PD on TV
Since August of 1999 the Reno, NV, Police Department (RPD) has been producing its own weekly broadcast TV program, RPD Scanner. Other departments have been producing programs for their local cable outlets (for example, the Aurora, IL, Police Department and PIO Dan Ferelli have been producing an excellent half-hour monthly cable program there for several years) but RPD Scanner is the only program that I know of that's actually broadcast on a local over-the-air TV station. RPD Scanner was the brainchild of Officer Craig Pittman, Community Liaison to police chief Jerry Hoover. Pittman said, "The Reno PD is recognized for community policing and we wanted something to reach out to the community, to reach as many folks as possible and let them see what we're doing in the department... [This program is] an absolute public relations tool for US."
A new, half-hour RPD Scanner is recorded every Friday morning at KOLO News Channel 8, the ABC network affiliate and largest TV station in Reno, for broadcast at 8:00 A. …