You’ve heard the saying, “You create your own luck.” Tampa Police Department
(TPD) spent months training and planning, on paper and in the field, for an event held once every four years and historically marked by conflict – a national political convention. In Tampa, however, the event was peaceful. I know. I had the good fortune to be there and learn from TPD’s experience with the RNC
At the upcoming IACP Conference in San Diego
, you can too. The Public Information Officers Section is fortunate to have a presentation planned by the Tampa Police Public Information Officer, Laura McElroy.
Communications strategies used by TPD externally, with the public, and media during the RNC, carried the same message the department used to train officers who would be face-to-face with sometimes angry, unpredictable demonstrators – individual contacts should be handled with respect, maintaining dignity and demonstrators rights to free speech, while balancing the need for officer, demonstrator, and public safety. From the chief to the PIO to officers in the field force, that consistency of message helped Tampa Police come out of the RNC with just two arrests and no injured officers, smashed storefronts, or viral videos.
TPD ended the huge event with renewed public trust and confidence in their department. Brilliant planning and execution allowed TPD PIOs to use their tools and expertise to OWN social media during the RNC, quickly quashing false rumors and capturing the real stories - officers escorting demonstrators and assisting citizens - and aggressively pushing those stories out via news release and social media.
An amazing thing happened. Citizens responded with an overwhelming and consistent message back to Tampa’s chiefs and officers – “Thank You!” Media outlets reported how officers were successfully keeping the peace though respectful and continued communication with demonstrators. Through TPD’s practice of being accessible and open with local media, and through the department’s accelerated use of social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, the citizens of Tampa had a front row seat to the activities – not inside the Forum- but on their own city streets, and they liked and appreciated what they saw. We all can take home lessons from Tampa.
Please join us for Laura McElroy’s presentation on the TPD experience with the RNC, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 2, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. with the PIO Section.