The police need a makeover in 2022


The past year has been tumultuous for the image and reputation of the police. A tidal wave of negative news about police misconduct and illegal behavior, both locally and nationally, has overshadowed the important and often dangerous tasks officers do every day, which many of us do. take for granted.

This media coverage has dramatically increased citizens’ negative opinion and perception of police officers. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 6 in 10 Americans said their confidence in the police had been shaken. The same percentage believe that the police are not held accountable for their illegal behavior.

I conducted a survey of college students as part of a crisis communication course that I taught. These weren’t your typical students who belong to fraternities and sororities. My class was made up of students working full and part time jobs, raising young children and those who served in military combat. The survey showed that 100% of the students believe that the police are dangerous work and that the officers render a vital service to society.

However, almost 70% believed that their local police officers are not friendly or approachable and that they do not have a good relationship with the community. A similar percentage do not trust their local police department due to frequent media reports of the misconduct and illegal behavior of officers.

The Boston Herald and other respected news outlets in print, broadcast and social media have focused on an increase in police misconduct. This newspaper and columnist Howie Carr have tackled embarrassing scandals and multiple arrests of soldiers in the state of Massachusetts.

Legitimate and embarrassing reporting focused on officers arrested for drinking and driving and leaving the scene of an accident, domestic violence, sexual assault and rape, assault and battery, improper use of force, sleeping in a car, patrol on duty, officers lying on the witness stand and possession of child pornography.

High-profile and live-televised trials have found juries convicting officers of murder and manslaughter. Protests were held to condemn police brutality as chants of police fundraising and police reform were heard from coast to coast.

As someone who has spent decades tackling image and reputation challenges and designing national and national communication campaigns to change public opinion and perception, let me professionally state that it is time to revamp the image of the police force in 2022. And here is how.

Massachusetts police chiefs, union officials and leaders of professional law enforcement associations must stop complaining about their poor image and act by coming together for an image and reputation summit. A professional facilitator would lead the group to design a six-month statewide rebranding campaign, using all types of media tools to communicate the positive contributions of agents in the communities they serve.

The goal of this campaign is to begin to regain the trust and appreciation of all Massachusetts residents in law enforcement officials.

Rather than paying expensive consultants to help develop the campaign, distinguished and accomplished public relations, advertising, marketing and branding experts now in retirement should be invited to volunteer their time on this initiative. Retired nonprofit fundraisers should be invited to offer their expertise to identify sources of campaign funding.

A campaign with consistent and repetitive messaging, with campaign material sent to local services that they can use to supplement statewide messaging, is now needed to counter the negative image of agents, which should continue into 2022. Otherwise, the law enforcement profession will continue to experience low morale among officers, commanders and commanding officers leaving the profession, greater challenges in filling vacant officer positions, and greater challenges in filling vacant officer positions. decrease in enrollment in regional police training academies.

Good officers are stereotyped by bad ones, which is not fair to the hard-working men and women who wear the insignia of a Massachusetts police officer. This is the year to reverse this image problem.

Rick Pozniak, resident of Billerica, spent 40 years as a public relations and communications manager. He now teaches communication courses at several colleges and at a county reformatory.

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