A blue wall of silence

At the end of February, the Minneapolis Police Department adopted a new policy for dealing with the media: henceforth all inquiries are to be directed to the "public information officer." In addition the new policy states that no police officer is to initiate a media contact without first consulting the PIO and prohibits employees from representing their opinions as facts.

Ron Reier, the PIO in question, argues that the prior policy for dealing with media inquiries was too chaotic, describing it as "any media person could contact any person about any issue." He says that the change, which was initiated by recently departed Police Chief William McManus, simply brings Minneapolis into line with how St. Paul deals with the press. "The police department's job is to do police work and not to do media work," he notes.

Cynics, of course, will suggest that this is simply an attempt by the MPD to dictate what gets reported in the press, but Reier insists otherwise. "While you may look at this as we're trying to control the message that wasn't our purpose at all," he says. "We by no means are trying to control the media."