General Order 45.1

Last Revised: 03-01-2017


This order consists of the following numbered sections:

45.1.1    Communication Model

45.1.2    Purpose

45.1.3    Release of Information to the Public

45.1.4    Media Access

45.1.5    Communications & Crime Prevention Programs

45.1.1 Communication Model

Olympia Police Department communications is managed, coordinated and organized through the manager of the Office of Community Policing in a PIO model.

45.1.2 Public Communication Purpose

The Department communicates with the public in order to build relationships and to provide transparency. It shares information about Department operations as well as information about significant events. While transparency with the public is paramount, information will not be made public when the information compromises the Department’s ability to provide effective law enforcement or violates the statutory privacy rights of individuals.

I.    The public information officer (PIO) coordinates the public information function of the Department.

A.    The Chief of Police designates an employee to serve as public information officer.

II.    The PIO may designate one or more media liaisons to assist in operation of the public information function. Media liaisons are the official designees of the PIO in his/her absence;

A.    The tenure of media liaisons is determined by the PIO.

B.    Tools and/or formats used for the dissemination of information to the public will be contemporary and chosen by the PIO.

III.    The responsibilities of the PIO include the following tasks:

A.    Manage the dissemination of information from the Department to the public.

B.    Maintain effective working relationships between the Department and the media;

C.    Develop and coordinate a system for the timely, accurate and concise reporting of newsworthy events/issues to the media;

D.    Ensure that the public receives information regarding crime trends, crime prevention tools, crime bulletins, requests for assistance and other public safety issues in a timely and responsible manner;

E.    Assure that information released to the public is in accordance with applicable laws.

F.    Assure that all interested media have equal access to public information relating to Department activities;

G.    Prepare press releases, except:

1.    If an incident occurs that, in the opinion of the on-duty Watch Commander, requires the emergency advisement or warning of the community, he/she may prepare and issue a press release providing the necessary information.

2.    A copy of any press release issued for emergency advisement or warning of the public is forwarded to the PIO for information, review, and, if required, follow-up with the media.

3.    Anyone contacting the media for any other reason shall notify the PIO of contact and coordinate with the PIO any follow-up work needed.

H.    Arrange and coordinate news conferences;

I.    Serve as liaison between the Department and the City Communications Manager;

J.    Coordinate media requests to speak directly with or interview individual Department employees. This General Order does not require any Department member to be interviewed by the media if doing so would cause him/her discomfort;

K.    Assist with unusual occurrences and emergency events by coordinating communication with the media in such circumstances;

L.    Coordinate with official representatives from other agencies in events that require multi-agency communication with the media;

M.    Serve as a resource/support to employees involved in media interactions.

45.1.3 Release of information to the public

I.    Authorized information for release

A.    Information released to the public must comply with State regulations regarding public disclosure and privacy.

B.    The PIO will coordinate with investigators regarding the release of information in on-going investigations.

II.    Unauthorized information

Employees will not release information on the following:

A.    Opinions about an arrestee’s character, guilt or innocence;

B.    Any statements concerning the credibility or anticipated testimony of prospective witnesses;

C.    Any information about an on-going investigation that might serve to jeopardize the success of that investigation;

45.1.4 Media access

I.    The PIO is the designated media liaison. An Incident Commander may appoint a temporary incident PIO in the absence of the PIO to coordinate the activities of the media at the scene of a crime or event that is under the control of the Department.

II.    The Incident Commander will decide issues related to access to a site controlled by the department. The Incident Commander has the authority to restrict media access to a crime scene or tactical location. The media is generally denied access to the following areas:

A.    Any area related to a crime, major fire, natural disaster or other catastrophic event, if there is a possibility that evidence will be damaged, tampered with, or removed from the scene, or that an investigation will be hampered;

B.    Private property involved in a crime, if the owner of the property requests exclusion of the media;

C.    Any area designated as being within a restricted perimeter in a tactical operation.

45.1.5 Communications and Crime Prevention Programs

I.    The Office of Community Policing and is responsible for creating and maintaining open lines of communications between our community and our police department, developing working relationships with our community members and providing crime prevention information.

A.    The general functions of the Communications program include:

1.    Publicizing events and programs initiated by the police department;

2.    Marketing and promotion of the agency;

3.    Coordinating with other area law enforcement and outside agencies public service campaigns;

4.    Initiating, creating and maintaining contemporary tools and platforms of communication;

5.    Working with other City Departments in information dissemination;

B.    The general functions of Crime Prevention program include:

1.    Create programs and communications in crime prevention in support of the purpose driven model of policing this department employs;

2.    Managing and coordinating volunteer programs;

3.    Developing, organizing and implementing law enforcement public service campaigns;

4.    Creating crime prevention and safety programs, seminars and presentations as needed;

5.    Collaborating with other City Departments in planning community safety needs and employing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED.)

6.    Assist with Special Event coordination and safety between the police department and event management or patrol services.

II.    The Office of Community Policing will research, develop and test contemporary forms of communication, programming, and marketing. Nothing listed above is meant to limit or inhibit the continual development of this Office.