In the wake of last week's SPU shooting, Huffington Post's Crime section editor Andy Campbell has some advice for police departments everywhere: Start copying the strategy of Seattle Police Department's media unit.
Our police and public officials can help alleviate some of the burden that locals and reporters take on during breaking news situations. All they have to do is follow the lead of the Seattle Police Department. Its public affairs office released so much timely and important facts during the shooting at Seattle Pacific University on Thursday that I thought their Twitter might have been hacked by a crime reporter.
It turns out that one of the guys leading the SPD's social media operation is indeed a former crime reporter. Between Jonah Spangenthal-Lee's first tweet alerting us to the shooting at 3:28 p.m. and his followup tweet naming the shooting suspect at 11:27 p.m., we got something crime reporters rarely get from police organizations during an active crime scene: Information. Lots of information. [...]
The SPD's response was refreshing, and should be followed by police departments across the country.
This certainly isn't the first national recognition that SPD's media unit has gotten, but it's well-deserved. When it's functioning well, our police department's media unit is the best first source for even the breaking-est of police- and crime-related news stories—which is not the norm for police departments. The goal is clearly to serve both media and the general public with as much useful, current, and accurate information as possible.
Campbell interviewed Spangenthal-Lee* for the piece, and the whole thing's worth a read. Go check it out.
*Who, it should be said, used to write about crime for The Stranger.