FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

Why I Hate Contacting Some Police Departments

Now that I've worked as both a PIO and a journalist, I can see both sides of the equation.

February 16, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

OK, I get it. I've been a PIO. I know you're scared of saying the wrong thing and getting your tit in a wringer. And I know it ain't fun dealing with jerks in the news media. They want things done NOW. They'll quote you out of context. They'll make up stuff. They'll piss you off.

The difference with jerks like me is I've been in your shoes. I know what it's like to be a spokesperson for the department. More than that, I know what it's like to have one's tit in the wringer. In my case, the same man who campaigned for me to work at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Information Bureau had an emissary deliver the wonderful news: "Dean, we can't make you leave, but we were wondering..."

Being that I can take a hint-particularly when it's administered with a two-by-four-I made sure to check the door's proximity to my ass and never looked back. I don't miss the cauliflower ear from being on the phone all day and have the peace of mind of knowing I never got a callous on my tongue from biting it. Still, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt.

But look: You are the P.I.O. (or P.A.O....P.O.S....whatever...). You are the face, the mouthpiece, and part-time figurehead. Perhaps, you ARE the head. You're the one who is supposed to be the contact for people like me. So don't be surprised when I contact you.

Having been there and done your job, I'm here to tell you—no, promise you—that I'll try to go out of my way not to set you up or burn you. Moreover, I'll guarantee the following to you:

I will give you ample lead time to help me out in coordinating interviews or getting information Admittedly, that's on my calendar, not yours. But surely three weeks is enough to at least let me know whether you've accomplished anything.

If you're worried about my quoting you, I'll let you review the draft before its submission. Nothing attributed to you will go to press without your approval. I'd much prefer you be candid with me without fear of being misquoted than print something that will tick you off and hurt my credibility with you and others.

Does this sound reasonable? I like to think so.

But there is a quid pro quo thing at work here: Don't jerk me around.

If you say you're going to do something and don't do it, and don't even bother to get back to me, then frankly: Screw you.

If you say you're willing to talk with me on something, then don't tell me anything, don't get pissed off when it doesn't go to print.

Finally, one doesn't write hundreds of feature stories, blogs, and Shots Fired columns without a helluva lot of help. In these efforts, I've dealt with a good many conscientious PIOs, including Seattle (at least, its former staff), Scottsdale, Salt Lake City, Pinellas County, Fla., and a good many others who've gone out of their way to help me out. If I had to say one state really has its act together when it comes to PIOs, it's Arizona. I can't recall an unpleasant experience with one of them.

This isn't to say that I've always gotten approval for what I've sought; sometimes, things otherwise fell through. But I always felt that these PIOs-both civilian and sworn-were dealing with me straight up and conscientious in their work.

I figure the lack of complaints by people I've dealt with is testimonial to the degree that I try and do right by them, as well.

But as of late I've taken to keeping records of every media inquiry made by taping every phone call and message left. It lets agencies know I made the effort to get their side of the story, and it covers my ass should they contend otherwise.

A-ha, but some of you are really clever-what if I can't reach you? I can almost hear your Wile E. Coyote invocation: "GENIUS!"

No fair.

Look, if you're reticent to commit yourself to some salient thought, then simply say "No comment." Leave it open for me and others like me to make suppositions (I love it).

Now, about any of you to whom I owe magazines, or PDFs...

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

FireCop @ 2/18/2011 6:04 AM

Police Officers returning phone calls and sharing information? You've got to be kidding. I can't count how many times I've had people compliment me on a quick return call; probably because it shocked them. Historically our record in law enforcement in these areas is poor to disgraceful. The problem is, there exists an easy fix. My policy comes from the years I spent in the corporate world. I return all calls within 24 hours from receiving them, even if it means telling someone I don't have an answer yet or there isn't much I can tell them. But at least I get back to them. I wish I could say the same for most other Officers.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Call Them "Terrorists"
Just as we have in the past, when this nation faced dangers from abroad and from within,...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine