imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Are cops trained to lie to the media and cover up police crimes and dirt?

by Cara Donlon-Cotton Friday, Dec. 22, 2006 at 2:08 PM

Read this article written by a cop for Police Public Relations and you answer the question? The answer is pretty obvious!

Recognizing Reporter Tactics - aka How to bully the media!

This article was in the November 2006 issue of Law and Order on page 19. It was written by Cara Donlon-Cotton. It is titled Recognizing Reporter Tactics.

Read this article and then tell me if you think the policed are corrupt. While it is titled “Recognizing Reporter Tactics” it probably should be titled “how to prevent the media from getting negative news about cops” or “how to threaten and intimidate the media” or perhaps “how to BS the media”.

Some great quotes from the article. Remember a cop wrote this!!!!

  • the reporter is ... the “bad guy” with the potential to publish or broadcast damaging information.
  • a conversation may start like this: “Man, John. From what I can tell, it looks like that thug deserved everything he got.” ... “So how many times did you hit him?” The rule here is: If you’re comfortable, you shouldn’t be. Put your guard back up and pay attention—this conversation might be going somewhere you don’t want to go. [So cops are supposed to cover up the crimes of cops???]
  • Most reporters aren’t used to being confronted, and they’ll back down, especially when confronted by someone with arrest powers. [so it’s ok to threaten reporters with arrest when you don’t want to give them information???]
  • For example, a reporter ... ask, “The suspect’s mother says you beat him while he was in handcuffs. How do you respond?” ... If the officer says it is true, he just hung himself out to dry. [So PIO (Public Information Officers) cops are supposed to cover up the crimes of cops??]

In the classic game of cops and robbers, there are good guys and bad guys. In the classic game of cops and reporters, we tend to view the media’s role of “good guy” and “bad guy” as fluctuating. One day the reporter is the “good guy” who can help disseminate information, and other days, he is the “bad guy” with the potential to publish or broadcast damaging information. In reality, though, as a law enforcement officer, you are the subject of the reporters’ game.

In the minds of reporters, you are the one with the information, and they are the ones trying to get it. In their minds, they are always the “good guys,” and more often than not, you are either the “bad guy” or the “very bad guy.” Essentially, they view you in one of two ways, as a confidential informant who needs to be worked or as a tight-lipped suspect who needs to be broken.

The best way to prepare for a reporter encounter is to familiarize yourself with some of the tactics used to get information. Much like policing, where real knowledge is gained more on the streets than in the academy, these tactics are the ones picked up on the job—ones not found in any handbook but ones that work. All officers, rank and file, should be on the lookout for the following red flags:

Frequently Bumping into a Reporter While Off-Duty

Such occurrences are not coincidences. Reporters know the hangouts, and they make it a point to frequent them. Valuable information can be gained from establishing relationships with everyone’s favorite bartender, waitress, or bouncer. Plus, that ever-impressive reporter eavesdropping skill comes in handy. Ever hear the story about the young, ambitious reporter who was about to be assigned to the courts beat?

As soon as he heard he was moving to that particular beat, he made it a point to find out where the DAs met for happy hour. He started showing up at the bar, drinking martinis with the prosecutors, having a fun time and making friends. A month later, when he finally moved to the courts beat, he had an instant network of “friends” who assumed he was OK because he was their drinking buddy.

The DAs fell for the trick. When the reporter started publishing stories with information that hurt their cases, they realized what had happened. The rule here is: Know your friends. Don’t be paranoid and run a background check on everyone, but be wary.

Comfortable Conversation

Reporters know the lingo, and they can sound an awful lot like…you. Much like a seasoned investigator speaking to a suspect in his own language, reporters use this tactic as a way to make you feel comfortable and thereby cause you to relax your guard. Even if they seem to know the situation and are talking supportively, they’re still trying to get a piece of information.

For example, a conversation may start like this: “Man, John. From what I can tell, it looks like that thug deserved everything he got.” But it ends like this: “So how many times did you hit him?” The rule here is: If you’re comfortable, you shouldn’t be. Put your guard back up and pay attention—this conversation might be going somewhere you don’t want to go.


“Do you really want to see your name in the paper as the corrupt cop? I’m giving you a chance to clear your name.” “I’d hate for your little girl to see it this way on the news. Tell me your side.” “Do you have a good lawyer? It’s nothing personal, of course, but my newspaper is notorious about going after officials who bury information.” “I’d hate to file a Freedom of Information Act request. Why don’t you just give me the information I need now and we can all avoid the hassle?”

Note how subtle the threat is in all of these examples and how, in each one, the reporter is giving the subject a way out. They’re essentially trying to use intimidation to get information, and it is a strategy their editors and producers would not officially condone. Therefore, if you react properly to a threat, the advantage is yours.

First, do not respond with the information. If a reporter is resorting to the threat stage, he most likely has nothing. He’s trying to bait you. Don’t take the bait. Then, call the reporter on it. Use a simple, “Are you threatening me?” Most reporters aren’t used to being confronted, and they’ll back down, especially when confronted by someone with arrest powers.

Be sure to document the threat. If you establish a pattern with a reporter using this tactic, you can take the issue up with his employer—newspapers and TV stations don’t want to damage ties and may remove the reporter from the public safety beat. But the main thing to remember is that 90% of the time, the threatening reporter is desperate for information. (The other 10%, he’s trying to be a thorn in your side.) Don’t ever let yourself be coerced into giving up what you weren’t planning on divulging.

Legal Intimidation

Reporters love to scream about lawsuits, “First Amendment rights” and the “public’s right to know.” Legal intimidation is usually an effective tactic. By employing this tactic, the reporters can bully their way into scenes, get information to which they’re not entitled, and cause pandemonium just by mentioning the Constitution and—gasp—any type of federal rights violation.

Newspaper reporters, especially, are usually the ones who use this. They’ve been instructed since journalism school that they are the bastions of the First Amendment and they are entitled to everything they want to see, read, hear, etc. Ironically, few reporters are well-versed in the specific laws about which they’re quick to scream. In fact, on the first day on the job, reporters are usually issued a card that cites codes they are to recite if they are denied access to what they want. They are told to gain access, and if they’re denied, to lodge a complaint and voice their objections on the record. They’re told, the “legalities will be figured out later,” and then they are rewarded for every uproar they have caused, legitimate or not.

TV reporters are also guilty of legal intimidation, but as they are bound by more stringent rules and regulations, like FCC guidelines, they tend to be more familiar with media law. The video journalists usually know where they can go and where they can’t—they’ll try to break the rules, but if you catch them, they usually behave. But unless you know the laws yourself, it’s easy to be intimidated. The best way to counter the tactic of legal intimidation is simple: Know the laws.

Sometimes reporters will offer you information in the hope of reciprocation, which may take many forms

Personal Reactions

Personal or emotional responses make good news stories. This tactic is usually used on non-ranking officers because a bad reaction by a uniformed officer can be exploited into a “bad morale” story. For example, a reporter might approach a line officer with, “I heard the new chief is going to disband your unit next week.” The line officer should be trained to expect such baiting by reporters and be instructed to not go ballistic because that’s precisely the reaction on which the reporter is banking. The best response is, “That information is available to you in the chief’s office.”


Reporters will purposely offer misinformation with the hopes of getting an officer to correct it. This allows the reporter to either confirm a whispering they’ve picked up or, even better, to get new information. Take for example, the reporter working on the inevitable “budgets being slashed” story. He confronts the public information officer with, “I understand city council is really tightening the belt and the police department is going to take a big hit, maybe no raise this year for officers.”

It would be best for the PIO to refer the reporter to the city council and to not answer with something along the lines of, “Yes, there will be cuts, but we’ve been assured the officers will get their raises this year.” Even if the PIO’s answer is correct, it is not the place for the PIO to comment on an unconfirmed budget. Obviously, with such a question, the reporter is digging for information and willing to use a contact as a source.

Confrontation with Witnesses

Reporters will use the words of a witness to bait officers into giving information along with an emotional response. No matter how an officer responds, it will always results in a situation with the officer’s word against someone else’s, usually a distraught person who will automatically gain public sympathy. Be aware that this is almost always a lose-lose situation.

For example, a reporter may come at a uniformed officer with the TV cameras rolling and ask, “The suspect’s mother says you beat him while he was in handcuffs. How do you respond?” How does one respond? If the officer says it’s not true, then he’s calling the mother a liar. If the officer says it is true, he just hung himself out to dry. If said officer says he followed procedures, you better hopes he’s done so because any deviation from the SOP will mean he’s a liar and your department is corrupt. See just how bad this situation could be?

In a case like this, there’s only one way to get out of the interview fairly unscathed: Maintain composure and tell the reporter that the initial incident report, with the arrest details, will be made available to him as soon as possible. As a general rule, when confronted with a baiting question and a witness statement, maintain your composure and refer the reporter higher up the chain.

If you’re the end of the chain, composure is key…as is sticking very closely to the factual information that is available for release. In situations like this, the media are looking more for emotions than facts, don’t let them do that you. The majority of these tactics sound, well, slimy. You’re not going to find them in any journalism textbook, and you’re not going to find many reporters who will admit to using such methods. Rest assured, there are reporters out there using them—don’t let them use them on you.

Cara Donlon-Cotton is the former media relations instructor for the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and a reformed newspaper reporter. She can be reached at


Report this post as:

Local News

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 12:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 12:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 4:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J10 11:58PM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M30 10:20PM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 12:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Democratic Socialists of America J14 4:57PM

Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's J14 4:18PM

Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento J14 12:54AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup J13 4:14PM

FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution? J13 3:52PM

Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians J13 2:59PM

The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally! J12 4:36PM

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure J12 3:38AM

Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud J12 1:50AM

Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner.. J11 6:48PM

June 2018 Honduras coup update J11 3:35PM

Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support J11 1:40PM

New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients J11 10:14AM

Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation J11 1:31AM

Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why J09 8:54PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 1:27PM

Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme ) J09 12:44PM

Google, World's Biggest Censor, Was Founded By The CIA J09 10:25AM

For a World Free of Nuclear Risks J09 8:29AM

Corrupt CDC Ignores Meat Fish Recalls J09 4:55AM

The (Temporary) End of Globalization J09 3:03AM

Aternatives to Abortions such as Plan B the pill, condoms and IUD J08 4:03PM

U.S Congressional Legal Minds Know Better Than Allowing Texas To Murder Hank Skinner J08 3:37PM

ACLU in many US states defends in court KKK and American Nazis Sometimes for Money J07 11:28PM

Judge Brett Kavanaugh: 12 Of Many Reasons To Oppose Him J07 9:00AM

Insensibilité engrammée J07 2:37AM

Silver Lining J07 12:21AM

The Shortwave Report 07/06/18 Listen Globally! J05 4:38PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy