Anyone in law enforcement knows that there are homes and businesses that are “frequent flyers”—locations that generate endless complaints and criminality. This is a story about one Florida sheriff and his very public announcement; he’s willing to identify the location and address the problems.
And as an author with more than thirty-five years of experience creating multi-award-winning mediafor national and state criminal justice agencies, I can only admire agencies embracing proactive outreach efforts. It’s what citizens want and need.
Hot Spot Policing
According to research from the National Institute of Justice, and the idea of hot spot policing, crime does not occur evenly over the landscape. It is clustered in small areas, or hot spots, that account for a disproportionate amount of crime and disorder.
For example, in Minneapolis, three percent of the city’s addresses accounted for 50 percent of calls for service to the police in one study. In Jersey City, N.J., about four percent of streets and intersection areas generated nearly half of the city’s narcotics arrests and almost 42 percent of the disorder arrests, as evidenced by the National Institute Of Justice.
Brevard County, Florida
Yet few law enforcement leaders are willing to take on and publically denounce activities at one address. However, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey did. He may be one of the most aggressive leaders in police media relations in the country (see the Brevard Sheriff’s website for self-created videos and initiatives).
Brevard contains the Kennedy Space Center and the country’s second-largest cruise port terminal (Port Canaveral). And it’s an ocean county that attracts tourists and space industry employees (full disclosure: I have a home in the county as well).
The law enforcement community is often reluctant to be aggressive as to public pronouncements and somewhat circumspect as to their creation of audio and video. Some remain convinced that “no news is good news.”
Not Sheriff Ivey; he’s constantly featured in media coverage for his initiatives and, quite frankly, the people of Brevard County seem to enjoy his style and outreach. His social media posts are filled with thousands of approving comments and likes.
I’m not sure his efforts are adaptable in all jurisdictions, but he gains a ton of positive publicity for his crime reduction initiatives. Within a day of Sheriff Ivey’s very public pronouncement, an arrest was made regarding the location identified, and Ivey, via another self-produced video, is seen taking the suspect to jail.
Space Coast Daily News Coverage (quotes edited for brevity)
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey had a strong message on social media for the residents of Port St. John house after deputies have been called to the house for service nearly 100 times over 12 months, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The unprecedented action by the Sheriff’s Office was taken after the house calls have consisted of numerous fights at the residence, calls for stolen vehicles, drug needles thrown into neighbors’ yards, multiple arrests and a plethora of disturbances over the past year.
“I’m standing in front of a house in Port St. John that has become a complete nuisance to its neighborhood and to this agency,” said Sheriff Ivey.
“This house, and the overwhelming majority living in it, are a constant disruption and pain in the butt to their neighbors, the children in this area and the taxpayers’ dollars.”
“The people in this house are using drugs, selling drugs and stealing other people’s stuff to finance their crime. This needs to stop.”
Sheriff Ivey concluded that the house was now on the BCSO ‘HIT (High-Intensity Target) List.’
“If you are thinking about visiting this house, you may want to rethink your visit. There is a relatively high frequency you will become a target of our agency,” said Sheriff Ivey, Space Coast Daily.
Police Executive Research Forum Media Outreach Tips (quotes edited for brevity)
I suggested in numerous articles that law enforcement and the rest of the justice system needs to create self-produced media (i.e., videos, audio, podcasts, photographs, proactive articles) and it’s interesting that the Police Executive Research Forum offers some police media public relations tips in the age of the Coronavirus that Sheriff Ivey seems to instinctively understand:
The pandemic has forced the news media to operate differently. Fewer reporters and camera crews are being sent to crime scenes or news conferences. This creates opportunities for agencies to shape stories by collecting and disseminating video and audio footage.
Many police agencies are adopting a “social media first” strategy. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, department blogs, and other social media platforms are effective for communicating directly with the public. In addition, many reporters pick up stories directly from police and sheriffs’ departments’ social media channels.
Now is a good time for generating “good news” stories. With so many news stories focused on grim COVID-19 news, media personnel and the community are hungry for positive stories not related to the pandemic. Stories about the heroic or community-minded actions by police officers can fill that void, but the stories must be authentic.
Technology is providing additional opportunities to reach the news media and the community. Chiefs, sheriffs, and other police leaders are using Zoom and other video platforms to conduct community town halls, media briefings, and one-on-one interviews with reporters.
With newsrooms working remotely and largely focused on COVID-19, some police PIOs are finding additional time to focus on internal communications. Messages often focus on changes in policies, safety precautions, and other pertinent information, and chiefs and sheriffs are delivering those messages to their personnel.
Getting the chief or sheriff out in front of the media and community can offer reassurance. Law enforcement agencies are working to send the message that the police are still out in the community answering calls, taking reports, and working to prevent crime. Having the chief or sheriff deliver that message can increase the impact.
Again, Sheriff Ivey and his tactics may not be your cup of tea, but it’s something the rest of us should consider.
Proactive public outreach is a necessary component as to winning back citizens and their goodwill.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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