Strategic Communications Unit

A Portland Police PIO talking to the media.
The Strategic Communications Unit is responsible for ensuring the public has information from the Police Bureau that may be critical to life safety, may involve the need for public disclosure of activities at the Bureau, or may increase trust and transparency.
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The overall goal is that everyone receives this information through an accessible medium. The expectation and practice of law enforcement agencies is to provide timely and accurate information through multiple venues including: press conferences, social media, interviews, website, podcasts and news releases.

The unit provides a media contact point with two sworn bureau members (working alternate shifts) who are trained in media relations and respond to breaking news and research answers to inquiries. The Public Information Officer coordinates with a professional content writer skilled in strategic communications; a social media specialist/programmer/web designer (BTS employee); and a graphics designer/ videographer to disseminate content to inform the public.

The unit provides coordinated messaging and creative solutions to ensure the public is informed on crime and public safety matters to improve transparency and trust. The unit works to improve internal communications to ensure all members are well-informed and can adequately communicate messages regarding public safety and policy and training. This is done through emails, videos and the Intranet.

The Unit is an integral part of the Bureau’s Community Engagement Plan, under the City's Settlement Agreement as well, including being responsible for the production of the Bureau's annual report and the coordination of public meetings associated with it.

The Bureau and/or public safety fulfills the majority of local media’s content and the Bureau receives more public scrutiny than any other city office. In addition, the Police Bureau’s social media platforms are significantly larger than any other Bureau or office in the city. With this communications strength comes great responsibility to publish content that is relevant, trustworthy and accurate.

The Bureau's workload has increased considerably over the last few years, due to a number of factors. In past years, media were able to learn about events by calling the Bureau of Emergency Communications or hearing information on scanners. A few years ago, the media position was eliminated at BOEC, radio channels are encrypted and media receive online data feeds, which is limited information about dispatches. This generates multiple inquiries from media about calls that may appear to be generating a large police response. In addition, with the historic increase in homicides, shootings and fatal crashes, there are more inquiries regarding these incidents. Finally, the events of 2020 brought national and international media attention. Now, the unit receives far more national/international inquiries than it ever did before.

The Unit did outreach internally, asking precincts if they had officers who were interested in posting on social media (predominantly Twitter and Instagram). The Unit produced a training in the Bureau's Learning Management System and precinct personnel began posting on social media. This allows precincts to provide the public with direct access to information about crime and events in their precinct. It also gives officers a sense of helping communicate their efforts and the ability to disseminate information directly to their community.

News Releases

Contact Information

1111 SW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97204