Public Relations Training for Commanding Officers Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00

Jules Vasquez presenting at Media Workshop)Commanding Officers of the Belize Police Department and their deputies took part in a public relations workshop at the Raccoon Street Police Station on Wednesday, May 15th. Commissioner of Police, Allan Whylie, said that the purpose of the workshop is to “improve the force’s relationship with the media and enhance the officers’ ability to communicate effectively”.

The senior officers listened to presentations from several veteran journalists including Jules Vasquez, Ava Diaz-Sosa, Janelle Chanona and Isani Cayetano. The officers and journalists engaged in candid discussions in which they exchanged experiences in the field that may have caused their relationship to sour. Journalists complained of harsh treatment at crime scenes and commanding officers’ reluctance to grant interviews or provide information. The officers accused the media of being irresponsible with the images they display such as: the face of an individual being detained at a crime scene. Such images make it impossible to execute a fair identification parade with suspects and also endanger the lives of those who are potential witnesses.

Based on the discussions, the journalists and officers concluded that the face to face conversation was long overdue. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Miguel Segura, came up with a proposal that has received the support of Commissioner Whylie. He suggested that the department select and train an officer in each district to be responsible for media relations. Commissioner Whylie said, “I will be happy to support that idea.” The Commissioner has also ordered his commanding officers to be available to the media. He said, “Just as my phone number is available to all of you, their numbers must be as well.”
Commissioner Whylie said that he plans to hold more meetings with the media because they have always believed that “the media can make you or break you” and “the media plays a key role in helping us to sell our product which is security and public safety”.