Lexington, SC. – Lately officer-involved shootings have been making news headlines. Typically these stories begin when newsroom police scanners start going off. Reporters hear”Shots Fired, Shots Fired!”
Some in the media rush to the scene while others make calls trying to gather the “facts”. Investigators can’t talk and are tight-lipped due to the ongoing investigation. The speculation game begins.
As reporters hurry to get the story out, they begin to report information found on social media, testimony of the man on the street or they play a video that was posted somewhere online. Much of the information is posted without context and leaves the reader to speculate as well.
Journalist have always rushed to get the story out first. There is nothing new about that. It’s the rushed media culture that lacks context that is the issue with some of today’s reporting.
One South Carolina Sheriff may have found the perfect answer to that rushed media culture . Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon asked members of the media to strap on a gun, sort of.
Sheriff Koon invited members of the South Carolina media to place themselves in his deputies shoes. Journalist were put through several life like training scenarios that allowed them to experience the hazards of police work.
In a statement Lexington County Sheriff Spokeswoman Colby Gallagher explained the program.
“We have a great working relationship with each media outlet in our region. As I watched their coverage of recent officer-involved shootings around the country, I thought they would enjoy and benefit from taking part in simulations similar to what they’ve been reporting on.
“Journalists from all four local TV stations and an online news outlet were put through a series of training scenarios. Three were in a virtual setting, while four were live-action with role players. Those individuals played a number of different roles. In one scenario, they were unharmed, but aggressive. In another scenario, they were mentally agitated and seeking the hospital. And, some simulations featured armed subjects intent on harming an officer unprovoked. Not every situation was depicted in the story due to time constraints. All of the scenarios were based on actual calls to which our deputies have responded in recent years.
Some of the participants were interviewed shortly after their training sessions. One local reported seemed shocked, she said “The first scenario outside was paralyzing for a couple of seconds. The persons didn’t give me the chance to introduce myself, this why I pulled you over, none of that” referring to the training officer that shot her as she approached the vehicle.
Another reporter said that it gave her a better perspective so that she can report more fairly in the future.
We wanted each journalist to get an inside look at how our deputies are trained to serve and interact with a variety of different types of people. We put a large emphasis on the training of our employees and understand one day is not comparable to a deputy’s training, but we wanted to show the difficulty of a split second decision while also balancing outside factors as well. We believe the few hours they spent in our training session yesterday will provide valuable context to them as they report on the next officer-involved shooting covered by their outlet.
Gallagher said the scenarios did allow the journalist to feel what it was like to wear a badge in today’s society. She went on to say the department believes the few hours the reporters spent in the training session will provide valuable context to them as they report on the next officer-involved shooting.
Image Credits: Lexington County Sheriff