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BEST PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER Phoenix 2003 - Sergeant Randy Force

The Valley has many dedicated professionals who are very good at dealing with the public and the press. And we should know; the media are their biggest customers and often their biggest headaches. But the Phoenix PD's Randy Force has taken the concept of public information to a new level. Three years ago, Force gave up a long-held post in homicide to become the department's chief mouthpiece. He soon saw the value of working with the media (easier to get the department's message out to the public) rather than fighting with the press (always bad headlines). So for the past two years, Force has taught media relations classes (which he devised) to rookie officers as well as to veteran supervisors. His PowerPoint presentation would make a First Amendment lawyer weep for joy. It starts with a lecture on the constitutional underpinnings of a free press and the importance of a free press to society, works through laws and court decisions on public information (such as access to crime scenes) and wraps up with a run-down of Arizona's public records law, including the fact that even cops' own personnel files are generally open to inspection. All of which is designed to encourage an open flow of information from a department that has often kept itself behind closed doors.

And besides, what a great name for a cop.

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