Policy # 310 - News Media Relations
To establish guidelines for the release and dissemination of information to the news media.
It is necessary that there be full public disclosure of objectives and policies and an openness in matters of public interest. Consistent with protection of the legal rights of involved individuals and with consideration of the necessity for maintaining the confidentiality of department records and of other primary department responsibilities, the department is to disseminate accurate and factual accounts of occurrences of public interest.
1. A description of the exact offense including a brief summary of events.
2. Location and time of offense.
3. Injuries sustained or damages resulting from the action.
4. Identity of the victim. (Except sex assault, child abuse, and at risk adults)
5. Whether or not there are suspects.
6. Information about unidentified suspects such as physical descriptors or vehicle description.
7. Identification of fugitive suspects for whom a warrant has been issued.
8. Criminal background of fugitive when the public should be alerted to danger.
9. Method of complaint (officer observation, citizen warrant, indictment)
10. Length of investigation and name of officer in charge of investigation (undercover operations may require withholding the officer’s identity.)
Will not release
1. Identity of suspects who are interviewed but not charged.
2. Identity of witnesses where such information could subject them to danger or extreme embarrassment, specifically Protection Order violation witnesses.
3. Identity of sex crime, child abuse or at risk adult victims. Race, sex, age is sufficient information.
4. Exact address of sex offense, where such information could lead to the identity of the victim.
5. Exact identifying information about the weapon or other physical evidence.
6. Any information that could be known only to the guilty party, i.e. investigative keys.
7. Information about valuable items stolen.
8. Conjecture about suspects or fugitives.
9. The amount taken in a robbery or burglary.
10. Identity of victims in death investigations until notification of relatives has been made.
11. Misleading or false information (“planted” stories.
D. The following are established guidelines for release of information to the news media after an adult arrest:
1. Time and place of arrest.
2. Defendant’s age, sex and City of residence.
3. The exact charge.
4. Facts and circumstances relating to the arrest such as resistance, pursuit, possession or use of a weapon, description of contraband.
5. Identity of the agency or unit responsible for the arrest
6. The name of the arresting officer unless there are unusual circumstances where it is felt that the officer would be jeopardized.
7. Duration of the investigation.
8. Pre-trial release or detention arrangements (including location of detention. Amount of bond available from the jail.)
9. Scheduled dates of various stages of the judicial process from the court.
Will not release
1. Name of defendant’s employer.
2. Comments about the character or reputation of the defendant.
3. Generally the names of juvenile defendants except where charges involve only: Traffic code violations or violations of game and fish statutes.
4. Prior criminal record of defendant. (Records section may release such information on request of the news media in accordance with state and federal statutes.)
5. Information about the existence or content of a confession, admission, or statement by the accused.
6. The refusal of an accused to make a statement.
7. The refusal of an accused to submit to tests or examinations.
8. Results of any tests or examinations.
9. Description of or results of any laboratory examination of physical evidence.
10. Re-enactment of the crime.
11. Revelation that the defendant directed investigators to the location of a weapon, contraband, or other evidence.
12. Any remarks about the assumed guilt or innocence of the defendant.
13. Comments about the credibility of testimony.
14. If the information for the arrest was derived from an informant.