Police communications are not reserved for communicating to the public about ongoing emergencies. Instead, the police have their own publicly-funded public relation teams, often used to control public narratives about crime and public safety in ways that promote police power, stoke fear about crime, and conceal police abuse and other misconduct. While these public relation departments are quick to advance narratives that validate police actions, they also dehumanize people who come in contact with police and twist or neglect to mention key facts.
For example, after Minneapolis police officers murdered George Floyd, the police department issued a statement saying that “man dies after medical incident during police interaction,” and noting that Floyd “physically resisted.” It said nothing about Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes.
Asking police officers to comment on and provide details about the work of their fellow officers creates a conflict of interest, often leading to false or misleading information that prioritizes the police department’s public image over the truth. Shifting some or all of the communications function to civilians within the city government will add at least some measure of independence.