Policy: Media Release Procedure

PURPOSE

The purpose of this order is to establish the procedures, responsibility and restrictions on the release of information by this department.

POLICY

It is the policy of the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) that all release of information to the media shall be governed by these procedures.

PROCEDURE

Media Communications

Media and Public Information: The Media Communications Section of University Communications serves as the lead unit within the University when interacting with the news media. Except for exigent circumstances, the Director of Media Communications or designee shall be informed of any significant law enforcement or community issue which could result in media coverage. Such information shall be transmitted to the Media Communications Director as it becomes known to the department.

Emergency Assistance: In an emergency or during extraordinary events, the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee may request assistance from Media Communications in handling contacts with the media.

Prior Advisement: Under no circumstances should inquiries by the media concerning a specific matter be referred to Media Communications until Media Communications has first been advised of the incident in question.

Department Flexibility: The fact that Media Communications has been advised of a specific matter does not preclude the ability of an authorized representative of the department providing a response to an inquiry by a representative of the media.

Media Release Procedures

Information Restriction: While our intent is to cooperate fully with representatives of the media there are instances when certain prerequisites must be met prior to the release of information. Such prerequisites include ensuring that the release of information would not compromise an investigation; that in the case of a serious injury or death the next of kin have been notified; and that the rights of an individual who has been arrested or who is wanted for the commission of a crime are preserved. Victims of crimes or those reporting an incident have no standing to demand “No Media Release” concerning a specific incident. Generally, restricting information from the media must meet a specific law enforcement need.

General Restrictions: Information shall not be released:

Upon the order of a court.

At the request of the prosecutor.

By order of the Chief or designee.

Regarding any departmental internal matter unless permission is given by the Chief or designee.

Specific Restrictions: In criminal matters, the following information shall not be released:

The identity of juveniles.

The identity of the victim of a criminal act.

The identity of an arrested person for whom a complaint and warrant have not yet been issued.

The identity of suspects who are interviewed but not charged.

The identity of the victim of a sexually motivated crime or the specific location of such a crime that would reveal the identity of the victim. General information such as race, sex, age, student status and residence is permitted.

The identity of witnesses to criminal acts.

Items of evidence related to a criminal act.

Information that only the guilty party would know, which if revealed might compromise the investigation.

Speculation or supposition as to why or who committed a crime.

Information as to admissions, confessions or the results of any tests. No mention will be made of a subject’s refusal to take tests or make an admission.

No photographs or composite drawings will be provided without the authorization of the Chief or designee.

A subject shall not be forced to pose for photographs, nor shall interviews be arranged, between any subject and representatives of the media.

In the case of a death, the identity of a victim shall not be released until the next of kin are notified.

No mention of specific police tactics or investigative techniques beyond those generally known to the public shall be made.

Release of Information: The release of routine information to media representatives shall be the responsibility of the Public Information Officer (PIO).

Media representatives shall be directed to contact the PIO during business hours, Monday through Friday.

In the case of an extraordinary event or a serious violent crime, the Duty Supervisor or appropriate Division Commander may release the information directly.

In cases requiring emergency assistance from Media Communications, the PIO shall be directed to assist in handling media contacts.

Clery Crime and Fire Log

The Clery Crime and Fire Log will be available on-line for review by the media. If an inquiry is made in regard to a particular incident, the individual is to be referred to the PIO or Duty Supervisor.

On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the news media representative shall be directed to the Duty Supervisor for further inquiries in regard to a particular incident.

The log shall contain the following information:

Crime classification

Offense

Disposition

General Location

Date and time of occurrence

Date and time reported