This article identifies and describes the elements of five strategies that should be part of any law enforcement agency's crisis communication plan, which pertains to how an agency communicates with the public in the midst of crises that involve intense public scrutiny of an agency's performance and effectiveness.
One strategy involves leveraging social media as a monitoring tool and establishing the agency as the official source of information that refutes false accounts of the crisis and the police response. The agency should develop strategies for determining how various segments of the community are responding to the crisis and how police policy and behavior are being perceived. Social media is an important means of monitoring these issues. A second strategy is to hold scheduled briefings with a commander and follow up with frequent updates to ensure that departmental policy is understood and implemented. A third key strategy is the establishment of a system for rapid and frequent internal communication. This ensures constant feedback from and interaction with officers managing the police response at various crisis sites. A fourth strategy is to reach out to key stakeholders in a crisis, which could be other first-responder agencies, elected officials, community or business groups, leaders in the affected areas, and utility companies. The fifth strategy is to connect with the community before a public crisis or controversial incident occurs. This involves the ongoing building of partnerships in which agency and community representatives discuss policies that will be followed under various types of crises that may occur in the community.
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Date Published: January 1, 2019