Tamara King appears to have joined the Winnipeg Sun as their new crime reporter in the wake of Chris Kitching’s departure.
Best be on your guard!
It now occurs to me that virtually every major media outlet in Winnipeg now boasts a woman as their front-line police reporter.
With King at the Sun, there’s Gabrielle Giroday at the Freep, Stacey Ashley at CTV and Gosia Sawicka at CBC. One supposes with the great work she’s done regarding the Winnipeg police at Shaw, Meera Bahadoosingh should also be counted.
That really leaves only Mike McIntyre at the Freep and Jeff Keele at Global [unsure if he’s labeled a ‘crime reporter,’ but he’s got the background] as the guys on the crime beat, and Mike, like Dean Pritchard from the Sun, is way more court-oriented than a police beat guy.
During my many years as a police officer I found that when police explain what they are doing and why they are doing it, all but a few members of the public (and the media) ‘get it’. They may not always agree but they recognize and understand the rationale.
What is required from police is a willingness to be open and transparent. Police departments have been and continue to be secretive about almost everything they are involved in. Unless, of course, they are looking for media coverage of positive stories or they need media assistance in getting out a message about a particular case where they need information from the public to solve the case.
Greater openness and transparency on the part of police departments would go a long way to improve the police image in the eyes of the public. It would also provide a greater measure of accountability.
It strikes me that the problem with this, in Winnipeg especially, is that policing and crime are so politicized and over-publicized that there’s often zero incentive to share or “explain” why things happened the way they did.
Unfortunately what that leads to over time is a sense of mistrust in the process and how police operate.
There are several approaches that can be taken to address issues like this in a proactive way. One is to create greater transparency in terms of police policies and procedures. If, for example, both the public and the media are fully aware of the police department’s use of force policy, and the policy is a public document, a lot of speculation and misinformation could be avoided.
This I can agree with. Show the public the framework by which the local PD gets things done and it would lead to more accuracy in what gets in the media, less speculation. This is an area where the WPS sometimes falls short, in my view.
Menno also writes that other cities hold information sessions for the public and media on various policing topics such as the use of force.
He wasn’t around at the time, but the WPS held a use of force seminar for the media in 2008. A full day of many officers’ time was devoted to sharing with reporters the rules behind what many consider to be the ugly side of policing.
It was fascinating — and, for me personally, somewhat embarrassing.
A few months after that they held a similar seminar on organized crime, equally as interesting. Thankfully, it was less interactive.