Chief of RU Police Department discusses handling media

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Alison Brodie

abrodie@radford.edu

Chief Don Goodman of the on Radford City Police Department came to Radford University on Wednesday, Oct. 24th night to talk about how he handles reporters and the media when they start asking questions about his cases.
Chief Goodman graduated from RU in 1984. Since then, he served 23 years with the Town of Blacksburg Police Department serving in almost every position possible until he became appointed as Chief of the Radford City Police.
According to Goodman, reporters need to grow a “thick skin,” especially if they bug him with questions at 9 a.m. before he’s even had a chance to look at a case.
Chief Goodman is constantly in the position of having to talk to reporters, or go in front of the camera and tell the public what is going on in a case so that they may feel safe.
As the Blacksburg police dealt with the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007, Goodman claimed he had never seen anything like it, in regards to the media situation. He witnessed his fellow police officers standing in front of the camera to answer questions just after dealing with the suffering students, blood still on their hands.
“We produce safety,” Chief explained, then went on to describe his “sausage analogy.” Most people like pepperoni, but have never seen it made, or are really aware of what goes into it. He likens that to safety. People want to feel safe, but they do not want to know what the police deal with to keep them safe.
Part of the Chief’s job, but mostly his Public Relations Officer’s job, is to release information to the public that is necessary to keep them safe or to possibly get an ID on a possible suspect or evidence regarding a case. The two major facts the police are always allowed to disclose are what happened and where the incident occurred.
“People are responsible for their own safety,” said Chief Goodman. With his last few words, he encouraged students to sign up for the RU Alert System if they had not already done so, and assured the students the police will give the public the necessary information to keep them safe.