Days before they are officially sworn in as police officers, the Odessa Police Department’s recruits for the 15th session of the Odessa Police Academy underwent flex prep media training, to better understand the policies and procedures of dealing with the media and the public.
“The purpose of today’s training is to improve communication between the Odessa Police Department and the media,” OPD Spokesman Steve LeSueur said. “It’s important to develop relations not only with the media, but the public in general. We can’t solve all of these crimes without their help.”
LeSueur went over the various policies and procedures with the recruits, discussing what is and isn’t public information, going about public records requests, handling of sexual assault victims and juveniles, and establishing barriers around crime scenes to prevent public or media interference.
“There have been times in the past where we’ve had reporters or photographers that have come on scene and the officers actually had to detain them temporarily,” he said. “A lot of it is just due to miscommunication.”
Respect for victims and family members of victims was emphasized. LeSueur went over how the next of kin would always be notified before their names were released publicly.
“We’ll find dead bodies and we can’t even tell if it’s a male or a female sometimes, so it can take a while” he said. “Our goal is to be professional and respectful for families, especially if we’re dealing with fatalities.”
LeSueur closed the lesson by telling them how these guidelines and procedures were ultimately set up for the safety of everyone.
“We’ve had times in the past, we’ve had people wanted for aggravated assault, armed people, and the media got there before us knocking on their door,” LeSueur said. “Our goal is the safety of everybody, not just officers, not just the media, but everybody.”
The six academy graduates will officially be sworn in as police officers 3 p.m. Friday at the MCM Elegante.