Senior officials of the Police Service embarked on an intensive three-day training workshop yesterday on how to communicate better during a crisis and improve media relations as they seek to enhance the image of the organisation. This was revealed yesterday by ASP Joanne Archie and public information officer of the Police Service, Sgt Wayne Mystar, during yesterday's daily media briefing at the Police Training Academy, St James. The workshop is being hosted by the Public Affairs Unit, led by director Sharon Lee Assang. The facilitator is an American, Judy Pal, whose company 10-8 Communications offers a service "exclusively for law enforcement and public safety." The company's Web site states: "A strong background in broadcast journalism, public affairs and law enforcement allows us to share a unique understanding of the critical objectives on both sides of the camera to ensure messaging is relevant and in the best interest of your department, the community you serve and your reputation as the leader of your organisation."
Pal is a former public relations consultant, broadcast journalist and news anchor. She also has served as a public information officer, communications manager and chief of staff with major law enforcement agencies in the US and Canada. She has extensive communications experience in dealing with sensitive and image-threatening issues, such as criminal conduct of police officers, international scandal, fractured community and media relations, complicated major crime investigations and percived acts of terrorism. Archie said the workshop was in keeping with the 21st-century policing initiative "to make the Police Service a more competent, caring, professional and committed organisation." She said the training would go a long way to prepare senior officials on how to better communicate with the media, as well as ensure the timely delivery of accurate information. Archie said succession planning would be used to ensure other junior-ranked officers also were trained on how to communicate with the media, once that initial workshop was completed. Lee Assang refused to reveal the cost, as well as the aim and objectives of the workshop, saying it was sensitive information. Mystar confirmed he went to London last week on a training course, titled Crisis Communication, which sought to prepare Government for its communication role during times of crisis.