Phoenix, AZ—Politicians and their appointed police chiefs across this nation demand nearly total control of police related information.
It’s epidemic in the larger cities controlled by Democratic Party mayors. They see the value of leaving their citizens with a false sense of security and public safety as they spin any and all information accordingly.
Police business was once considered just that. Certain information was kept away from all but sworn police officers. That’s not the case because the local politicians have demanded and unlawfully obtained access to sensitive police data nearly everywhere.
Politicians also demand the ability to influence arrests and prosecutions of friends, relatives and of course their campaign contributors. Illicit influence is used to both free the guilty and even jail the innocent. Cops and prosecutors have no choice but to look the other way. Whistle blowing in law enforcement circles simply does not exist.
Our cops are considered expendable so reality dictates that the bosses find a sacrificial lamb or two to frame, fire and destroy their reputations. This creates the appearance of avoiding corruption by eating a few of their own.
If you think things are operating by the book anywhere, you’re dead wrong. Of course the actual Obstruction of Justice must be subtle and well below media radar.
Controlling the cops is somewhat easy for politicians because they control the lives of officers through their jobs, working assignments and pensions.
Because of political corruption the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports system is almost totally unreliable because of local politicians and their police chiefs.
They have learned that they can skew statistics to get additional federal funding or to hide things like murders from the public. They’ve found creative ways of making crime statistics appear almost anyway they want.
I’ve been both a cop and an investigative TV news producer over the last four decades and have seen this all-first hand.
The police agencies have learned that they can control information by the use of Public Information Officers. These are the kind of people that know how to do exactly what they’re told by superiors.
PIO’s are not there to disseminate information but to protect and hide it. They provide not a single syllable beyond what the public record demands. They do this with a broad smile and appearance of cooperation.
PIO’s know how to arrange a live news conference on an important crime story. They love the captive audience that live TV gives them. The PIO’s dutifully subvert the news conference purpose and instead use it for face time of the local politicians that have absolutely nothing to do with the story.
Then they all brag about the “great work” they are doing for the taxpayers until the mass nausea sets in. Only after that they will say a few words about the story involved.
Today’s local news is troubled in a big way. Lost audience and revenue has eliminated any challenges to the PIO’s disinformation. The PIO’s and their bosses love this and know the stories will spin they way they want them.
As an investigative TV news producer I’ve made it personal policy to purposely avoid the PIO’s and not waste my time with them.
Instead I locate and contact the witnesses, victims and property owners for the real story. Instead of waiting for the cops to tell me about the backgrounds I investigate the newsmakers myself.
If news organizations like allowing the PIO’s to tell their audiences what the news is, reporters and producers are not necessary. Let the PIO’s Skype in their sound!
No police department, politician or other obstructionist is going to prevent me from digging and learning the truth about a story I’m working. Getting a news director to authorize my time these days is the real challenge.
I’ve always watched the lamest of reporters suck up to the PIO’s thinking they will somehow get something extra. The PIO’s are enemies of the truth and exist only to demolish or derail anything that might show government ineffectiveness or questionable motivation.
Reporters should simply refuse to deal with the PIO’s. If the cop or a low level supervisor like a sergeant or detective handling the story you're working has been muzzled that all the more reason to skip wasting time with the PIO’s.
At a minimum no sound bites, name recognition belongs in print or on video of any police PIO.
Every journalist that covers crime and courts should know this.
The truth is that many reporters these days only want to get their minute-thirty second package up or six-inch print story without any effort. What a sad existence. I say do it right or don’t do it at all.