I arrived to Tampa Police Departments on June 27th, around 9:30am. I was greeted by the desk officer who accompanied me to the media relations office. From the outside, it didn’t seem much, but when inside, it was quite roomy. The media relations office itself was divided into three sections. One was offices, two was storage rooms and last was the main lobby where press conferences were done. There was supposed to be a press conference that day but it was postponed for another date.
The person that I was scheduled to be with that day was Janelle McGregor. McGregor works for the Tampa Police Department’s media relations unit. McGregor is one of three spokespersons who work for the department, who’s main job is to document and report any news within the city. She proceeded to show me around the office, and tell me a little about herself and what she does for her job.
McGregor has been with the Tampa Police Media Relations for several years now. The 2012 employee of the year started working at TPD first as a secretary in the personnel unit, gathering information on potential candidates. Right before they were about to relieve her from her duties due to budget cuts, she was offered a position in media services, and has never looked back since. McGregor has many different job details she is responsible for. A few are to report past or current breaking news stories within the city of tampa, keep up and update the agencies social media such as Facebook and Twitter and also make sure she publishes magazines and articles on paper.
As a media relations spokesperson, it differs slightly from that of an “ordinary” journalist. With McGregor, she starts out her day looking through police incident reports and things that occurred the previous nights. She uses public records such as the jail log to see if anything “newsworthy” happened. She also receives phone calls from local news stations and newspapers with inquiries about any breaking news in the city of Tampa. If she finds anything worthy, she researches, makes sure it is accurate, and proceeds to write a story on it based off of the information she acquired.
With the social media aspect, she stated that “With younger police officers getting on, and with the ever grow in community policing, social media is one of the biggest tasks I see myself being involved with”. Tampa Police’s Facebook has over 7000 followers, and on it, there are post ranging from weather, to detours and events around the city. “Most people, at least I am speaking for me, get their news not from t.v but some sort of social media”. Community policing is primarily focused on bringing the relationship between cops and the citizens much closer. Facebook itself has helped that process with allowing people of the community to become much closer with the department.
Another one of McGregor’s task is to set up news conferences. These can be anywhere from her reporting on scene of an incident, to having to arrange a conference for the chief of police. McGregor has worked all facets of media, from the republican national convention to the super bowl back in 2009, she has seen it all.