Thursday, June 4, 2009

Daily news briefing

This is a topic I’ve broached before, but not in quite this detail. Every weekday morning at 0845, the police department hosts a news media briefing at headquarters. The reporters gather in a room specially designed for this function near the lobby. It’s equipped with an LCD projector, a computer, a podium, flags, and a white board. If you’re a Lincoln resident, you’ve seen it in the background of lots of interviews with police-types over the past ten years.

Our public information officer, Officer Katie Flood (who wears several other hats) provides the reporters with printouts of public record information about each police incident report and citation/arrest within the previous 24 hours. She briefs the media about the most significant overnight crimes, and depending on what mayhem has occurred, an interview on tape may follow. The Sheriff or his representative stops in and does the same, and the whole affair is normally over within 20 or 30 minutes.

On my first day as chief in 1994, Margaret Reist from the Lincoln Journal and Bruce Weible from the Lincoln Star composed the media corps. It was a sum total of two. Today, we are likely to have seven or eight: the Lincoln Journal Star, KFOR radio, KLIN radio, the Omaha World Herald, KOLN/KGIN TV, KLKN TV, and KETV TV. During the school year, we’ll also have the Daily Nebraskan, and once or twice a week we also get a visit from KPTM TV and KMTV TV.

The daily briefing, however, is hardly the only contact we have with the news media. They will continue to call through the day with additional questions, or as new events unfold. In the evening, the Journal Star’s evening police beat reporter will stop down at headquarters for a face-to-face with the second shift duty commander, and there will be calls from TV stations through the evening until the 10:00 PM newscasts. It starts up again around 4:30 AM, as the radio stations, TV stations, and the Journal Star check in to gather their stories for drive time.

This has changed dramatically. The news media is so much more pervasive and competitive today, and the beat never stops. Even the newspapers now must be fed constantly throughout the day, as their online editions change throughout the day.

I know that LPD was conducting this daily briefing when I started my career, but it’s even older than I realized—at least one hundred years. Last week, the grand daughter of Chief F. J. Rickard stopped at HQ, and gave us some copies of his news clipping file. The newspaper reports confirm that essentially the same morning briefing was occurring at police headquarters in 1909, and in one article (dated June 2, 1909), it is referred to as a “time honored” routine.


Anonymous said...

Would it be too much trouble to post the transcript of the daily news briefings on the LPD web site, so the public could skip the media filtration/radaction?

Tom Casady said...



Anonymous said...

If someone wanted to read a police report from the early 1900's, could they? I had a relative involved in an accidental shooting in the early 1900's at a bar and was wondering if that information is public, and/or available?

- M

Tom Casady said...



We have access to several "police blotters" dating back to the 1870's. They are not complete, but if you have a date, we'll have an intern look. The blotter is a handwritten ledger, that often contains very short synopses of major events. Here are a couple examples of blotter entries.

Your best bet is probably newspaper accounts, either at Bennett Martin Public Library or at the State Historical Society.

Anonymous said...

I understand there was vandalism at Lux Middle School this morning.

What's the latest on this?

Anonymous said...

Chief I have had several experiences with local officers in both lincoln and omaha. What I can tell you is that Lincoln officers really stand out in how they seem to be much more respectful and understanding than my other experiences. Even in bad times, they explain their side very clearly and if you show them respect you get it right back. The biggest thing I appreciate is when an officer doesn't act like he is better than me, or condescending. I appreciate that and I believe it has to be a reflection of their leadership. Kudos.

Tom Casady said...




That's good to hear. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

A9-052370 - that's a really unusual incident for that area, especially in broad daylight.

South Island said...

Wow. Most departments in my area seem to brief about once a week, and the briefing usually refers to a few hand hand picked files.

I am very impressed with the transparency of the LPD.

Anonymous said...


When is your weekly gig on Channel 5? I always forget to look for it, so I wanted enter it in the DVR.

Also, do you do a regular thing on KLIN 1400, or is that just an occasional deal?

Tom Casady said...


No weekly gig on Channel 5--just an occasional program (which gets replayed over, and over again!)

Irregular on KLIN, just when they call me.

Every third Thursday from 11:00 to Noon on KFOR.

Anonymous said...

"Every third Thursday from 11:00 to Noon on KFOR."

Thanks! I put it on the planner. They should podcast that one, since a lot of people aren't able to listen to the radio (or stream it online) in the middle of the day.