Police work is a difficult, dangerous profession. Pretty much everyone agrees with that, but when cops make a mistake, the stakes – both in life and public relations – can be very high. Trust is shattered as those who people assume will protect them are in the news showing they can be all too human.
A Tragic Mistake in Stockbridge, Georgia
Authorities arrived at a home to serve a warrant. As they entered the home, cops encountered 63-year-old William Powell. In the altercation that followed, Powell was shot by police. He later died at Atlanta Medical Center. At some point between the shooting and rushing Powell to the hospital, it was revealed police were at the wrong house.
The three officers who initially entered Powell’s home surprised the Georgia homeowner, who grabbed his gun. Cops, as they are trained to do, opened fire. Now an investigation has been opened into the incident. According to preliminary reports, police responded to a 911 call reporting the sound of gunshots and a woman yelling for help.
Chaos at the Wrong House
The police arrived, but they arrived at the wrong house. Put yourself in this situation: it’s the middle of the night. You’re sleeping. Suddenly, there are men in your house. Lots of shouting, confusion. Powell did what many would in this situation. He grabbed his gun. But the police already had theirs out. More gunfire. An innocent man shot. An innocent man who later died. Cops who thought they were at the right place doing their best to protect and to serve. It’s easy to point fingers and place blame, just as easy as it would be for others to excuse the actions of the police once they were inside the home.
But at this juncture, logic won’t help push the narrative along. People are angry, they are scared and grieving. They will not respond to cool intellectual arguments.
Assess the Situation
Right out of the gate, the police need to get a handle on the emotional upset caused by this event. Law enforcement officers are trained to think critically and logically in instances of high emotion. They are also trained to communicate in a “just the facts” jargon that separates emotion from a very trying job. For the most part, average folks do not have this training, and that dichotomy can create PR situations that make bad scenarios much worse.
Maybe they need Jackson Spalding, a pre-eminent Atlanta based PR Agency to help with this situation.