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American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Conference Media Relations Seminar Downtown Marriott Louisville, KY Tuesday, June 25, 2013. 1:00 p.m . Helene Kramer. What is a crisis?. Dictionary Definition

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American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors ConferenceMedia Relations SeminarDowntown MarriottLouisville, KYTuesday, June 25, 2013

1:00 p.m.

Helene Kramer


what is a crisis
What is a crisis?

Dictionary Definition

A dangerous or worrying time: a situation or period in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially a time when action must be taken to avoid complete disaster or breakdown.

common crime laboratory examples
Common Crime Laboratory Examples
  • Rogue Employee – San Francisco (drugs), Boston (faked test results, forged paperwork).
  • Institutional Incompetence – Colorado (blood-samples), FBI Crime Lab (mismatched hair samples)
  • Backlog of Untested Evidence – Detroit (rape kits)
common crime laboratory examples1
Common Crime Laboratory Examples
  • High Profile Criminal Trial – Defense attorneys allege sloppy evidence gathering at crime scene contaminating evidence analyzed at the laboratory (O.J. Simpson murder trial)
  • High Profile Criminal Trial – State laboratory employee seems uncomfortable during testimony for the prosecution and even more uncomfortable under cross-examination by defense. Reported by media. (Anywhere USA)
what not to do leak to the press alleged rogue employee or institutional incompetence
WHAT NOT TO DO(Leak to the Press - alleged Rogue Employee or Institutional Incompetence)
  • Ignore the call/inquiry
  • Utter the words, “NO COMMENT,” even if you can’t comment
  • Say, “Must be a slow news day.”
          • Adversarial
          • Obstructionist
          • You’re Hiding Something
what to do
  • Thank the reporter/writer for the inquiry.
  • Acknowledge the public’s interest in what your agency does.
  • Refer the reporter/writer to the PIO, if the PIO is prepared to respond.
  • If you respond…and there is something to it…acknowledge both the administrative and criminal investigation.
      • i.e. “Unfortunately, we can’t answer your questions because we asked the State Police to determine if there is a criminal case. At the same time, we launched an administrative review to determine whether our internal policies and procedures have been violated. If and when charges are filed or any employees are disciplined, that is a matter of public record and we will make an announcement.”
what not to do when a law enforcement agency is responsible for the issue
WHAT NOT TO DO(When A Law Enforcement Agency is responsible for the issue)
  • Ignore the call/inquiry
  • Utter the words, “NO COMMENT”
  • Say “Must be a slow news day.”
          • Adversarial
          • Obstructionist
          • You’re Hiding Something
what to do1
  • Let the relevant agency know the media has called you and you will refer the media to them.
  • Explain the process to the media.
        • i.e. “The state lab analyzes evidence collected by law enforcement. We test what law enforcement delivers to us. So whenever there any question of whether evidence should have been turned over to us, we have to refer you to the police department or sheriff’s office in question.”
  • If you are asked if you’ve heard about the situation, acknowledge that you follow the news.
        • i.e. “I’ve seen and heard some news reports. Again, I have to refer you to the XYZ Police Department.”
what to do2
  • Contact the relevant law enforcement agency again to debrief on what questions the media asked you and how you answered them.
what not to do when your agency gets negative press during a trial
WHAT NOT TO DO(When your agency gets negative press during a trial)
  • Ignore the call/inquiry
  • Utter the words, “NO COMMENT” or say, “Must be a slow news day.”
what to do3
  • Cite your agency’s policy.
        • i.e. “It is our policy not to talk about specific evidence or testimony during an open investigation or during the trial.”
  • Hold out hope.
        • i.e. “Once the case is closed and if we get permission from the prosecutor, we may be able to address your questions. But until then we have to stick by our policy and not jeopardize the case.”
diffuse negative news protect your agency s reputation
DIFFUSE NEGATIVE NEWSProtect Your Agency’s Reputation
  • Build relationships and credibility with the news media during good times.
          • Accommodate with interviews and access reporter-driven ideas for feature stories on what crime labs do.
          • Serve as a resource when a reporter needs background information on the field of forensic evidence.
  • Develop a strategic media relations plan each year. (Sample calendar attached.)
  • Proactively pitch 2-3 stories per year
            • New technology solving crimes
            • Agency and individual awards and recognitions
            • Individual employees or the agency doing extraordinary things to help people
diffuse negative news protect your agency s reputation1
DIFFUSE NEGATIVE NEWSProtect Your Agency’s Reputation
  • After a scandal….
          • Take the hit but move on quickly!
              • Release to media positive changes in policies and procedures to prevent reoccurrences.
              • Within 6 to 8 weeks, begin rebuilding agency profile (positive branding) with positive news releases!!!