Take responsibility for your actions when faced with any sort of PR disaster in Law Enforcement.

Take responsibility for your actions when faced with any sort of PR disaster in Law Enforcement.

In today’s world, the law enforcement community is under a microscope. It’s essential that we all learn how to handle ourselves in any situation, but even more important when faced with a PR disaster. Here are some tips to help you take responsibility for your actions:

Facing a PR disaster?

In this post, we will explore the key steps to take when faced with a PR disaster. A PR disaster is defined as any incident that negatively affects the reputation of your agency or organization. It can be as simple as a video of your officers using inappropriate language going viral on social media, or it could be something larger, like an officer-involved shooting (OIS).

  • First step: Take responsibility for your actions.* You must admit that you made an error and accept responsibility for it if there was one made by you or your department/organization. This is not just something that law enforcement agencies should do; every person should take ownership of their mistakes and try to make amends whenever possible.

* It’s important to understand that admitting fault is not the same as apologizing. Apologizing implies guilt, so it should be avoided if possible (especially when an officer has been involved in an OIS). If you do need to apologize for something specific about your department’s actions, make sure it’s not just a blanket apology but rather one based on specific facts.

Action: take responsibility for your actions

  • Explain what happened.
  • Apologize to those affected by your mistake.
  • State how you will make it up to them.
  • Explain how you will prevent it from happening again in the future—and do it!
  • Take responsibility for your actions and learn from this mistake so that you can avoid making another one in the future, if possible

Explain why you did it

First, you should explain why you did it in the first place.

If you are a police officer who fired your weapon, for example, and then killed an innocent person because of it—then you need to explain why that happened. If it was something related to poor training or lack of policy guidance, then let people know that those issues are being addressed and how they will be corrected moving forward. Taking responsibility for what happened and explaining how things will improve in the future, it helps build trust back into your work as an Agency.

Outline what you will do differently

It’s important to communicate with stakeholders and the public at large about what you will do differently. In order for your actions to be effective, people need to know how they can expect change. Here are some examples of this:

  • If you made a mistake in the incident itself (a police officer should have used de-escalation techniques instead of deadly force), then you should outline how you’ll work on improving those skills moving forward.
  • If there was an issue with transparency or communication (a police officer didn’t give full details about what happened), then explain what steps will be taken in order for everyone involved to get more information going forward.
  • Outline any changes that might impact community members directly—such as an increase in training opportunities, or adding body cameras—and make sure these changes are actually implemented!

Lastly, you should acknowledge any gaps in knowledge about how something could have been handled better—and then make sure to look for ways you can fill those gaps going forward. For example, if there’s an issue with communication between police officers and community members, then seek out training resources on effective communication skills!


It’s important to remember that the public relations disaster doesn’t have to be a death or other tragedy. It can be any sort of mistake that you made, and it doesn’t matter if the mistake was intentional or accidental. Taking responsibility for your actions can help you save face and regain trust in your department by showing people that you care about them more than anything else. The most important part is taking action when faced with any sort of PR disaster in Law Enforcement

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