The Edmonton Police and the Shameful Journalist

Let me start by saying that I’m absolutely livid right now… So, earlier tonight one of my favourite Edmonton tweeters, Constable Power with the Edmonton Police, posted this tweet:

He’s part of a recruitment program with the Edmonton Police where officers tweet what they go through while on shift. Yes, there are other officers that tweet as part of the program, but I’d say Cst. Power tweets 10 tweets to every 1 tweet that the other officers put out there COMBINED. I’ve engaged him in interesting conversations at 2 am after he’s posted something interesting during his shift. I’ve never met him, and I doubt I ever will, but I enjoy following his tweets while he’s on shift. He’s never given away confidential information, and often tweets about things long after they’ve occurred.

So the other day (July 29, to be exact), he tweeted this:

Cst Power Gun Tweet

It’s him looking down the barrel of his gun during an armed standoff. It was posted at 8:30 pm, long after the standoff had been resolved. When was the photo taken? No one knows, but it’s an interesting glimpse into what he encountered on his shift. The thing about policing is that you don’t have a “normal” day, ever. You have no idea what you’ll encounter when you show up for shift, and that’s what draws some to the job. I spent 2 years as a volunteer with the Edmonton Police, so I have a better understanding of what they go through than the average person. I worked behind the counter at a community station, assisting the officers in writing up reports, usually from people that came in to report an accident, or a theft. It was great, and if I had the time I’d volunteer again.

So, why am I livid? CTV Edmonton decided this tweet was news, or rather they would make it news. They aired a story on the 6:00 news, and posted it online with the headline:

Reaction to picture tweeted by EPS officer mixed

The nice thing about Twitter is that you can go and read what others have said to someone. So that’s what I did. I counted 30 tweets in response to the photo, and two people showed any kind of concern over it, responding with “Do u think that taking ur eyes off the residence to pull out ur cell phone and take a picture was wise”, and the other a mocking tweet. Cst Power responded with “It was long over then. You can rest assured I won’t be getting killed over a picture.” So, an officer takes a photo looking down his gun AFTER the situation had been resolved, and it’s turned into a news story by CTV. They took this tweet to the streets of Edmonton to ask for reaction from people. Of course they got a few people who took issue with it, but you’d find people that take issue with almost anything depending on how the question was phrased. I’m almost certain the CTV reporter didn’t say, “Do you have a problem with an officer taking a picture of his gun after an armed standoff has been concluded peacefully?”

I have a big problem with this story, and CTV deciding to run it. This is a case of a media outlet creating the story, not reporting on it. There was NO mixed reaction to the photo. There was one question about it, which was promptly answered. Everyone else was happy the situation was resolved peacefully, thought it was a cool gun, or were amazed by what an officer has to deal with.

The Edmonton Police realizes the power of Twitter, and is using it to engage people in a positive manner. Cst Power is a public face for the organization, followed by over 3,000 people, some of which the EPS hopes will be inspired to join the ranks of the men and women that protect our city. This manufactured CTV story has done a few things, all of which are negative. It’s taken a non-event and twisted it into some kind of story, but more importantly it’s dragging the name of an officer into a controversy he shouldn’t be involved in. Cst Power posted other tweets later, which I’ve edited into the following:

My voluntary participation in this project has been primarily on my own time, and as such, this is not worth the headache. I will continue to try and answer your police / recruiting questions in addition to posting #JoinEPS or EPS releases. I sincerely thank all of you for your participation and support over the last 2 years. Please continue it with our other Twitter members. I hope I’ve accomplished what I came here to do, which was inspire people to become Police Officers & educate you on what we do. Thanks all.

Sincerely appreciate the overwhelming support. Ill try to explain my position: There is no question that I took an official police account into new territory. My goal was (is) to provide a first hand glimpse into the careers of the Police you see every day & not the media release, TV Show or 6pm news cast that doesn’t necessarily represent Policing. With that comes bad press. One bad story can destroy a police officers career even if it is unfounded. The point is, what about the next one? Or the next? I am taking that into consideration as I decide where I go from here. I have no less then 22 years left to serve, and I’d like to see them through. Hopefully I’ve explained my predicament. We’ve done a lot of good I think and I’d like to see the EPS continue this trend, even if I cant.

His position is very clear. Why put his professional career on the line for an optional thing designed to get people interested in policing? Why should he risk being smeared by some idiot journalist looking to make up a story?

I’m disgusted by the “story” Amanda Anderson at CTV cooked up. It had absolutely no place being broadcast, or put online. You’ve jeopardized a project that EPS has been working at for a couple of years, and tarnished the reputation of an officer. Shame on you, CTV, shame on you. Don’t invent the news, report on it.

You can bet I’ll be writing a letter (a real, physical letter) to CTV tomorrow. They can’t undo what’s been done, but they can make sure it never happens again.

P.S. Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors, but I don’t feel like proofing this before posting it (and I need to get some sleep).

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11 Comments

  1. I can assure you that CTV’s brass is just as angry as you are. This may have been a career limiting move for that reporter.

    • Well if the brass are angry I hope that Amanda isn’t the only one who they talk to. It’s a common refrain from anti-social-media MSM types that having an editor is a big advantage over citizen journalists. In practice, it clearly makes no difference.

      • An editor, and a news director. CTV didn’t air the entire story, because if they had then they would have realized that it’s not a story at all.

  2. Yes, it was quite poorly done. Welcome to Edmonton media, where the story is never really the story.

  3. Laura Ireland

     /  August 3, 2012

    I watched this on CTV and waited for them to say what time the picture was posted as many of us know, pics are usually posted to social media well after events occur. I found it strange that there was no mention of time and now I see why. What a horrible thing to do to that officer. I’ll be writing a letter too!

    • The tweet was made a full 8 1/2 hours after the press release went out saying that the standoff was over.

  4. As a police officer, you cannot expect to post a picture like that and not expect someone to assume it was taken during the actual stand off. All it took was one tweet for officer Power to clarify. I think it was a brilliant publicity stunt…so, thank you officer Power for ruffling some feathers and thank you, CTV! Now I know about the police initiative on twitter and will be following.

  5. As a police officer, you cannot expect to post a picture like that and not expect someone to assume it was taken during the actual stand off. All it took was one tweet for officer Power to clarify. I think it was a brilliant publicity stunt…so, thank you officer Power for ruffling some feathers and thank you, CTV! Now I know about the police initiative on twitter and will be following.

  6. Rachel

     /  August 4, 2012

    I will miss Cst. Power’s tweets. Engaging, funny, informative. I thought he used the medium brilliantly. Wish him all the best.

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