Webinar presenters Kate Kimble and Dean Cunningham answered a number of your questions after their presentation, "Breaking Your Own News." Here are a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Is there a particular webinar microphone that you recommend, maybe one that you would have obtained in the future?
Kate Kimble: It really is whatever you can afford. The one we use is $20 on Amazon. If you're looking for higher quality and other some handheld mic with a little custom sleeve with your agency's logo on it. I would say we use a pretty inexpensive lavalier mic but it really is important to have the windsock on there that's going to cut that sound whether it's wind or conversation nearby, cars that traversing, it's just really important to have that. I would also highly recommend getting an extension for it. The one that we got for iPhone plug-in is not very long. You can get a 6-foot extension cord which is really nice to have a little more distance so you're not right up on someone's face when you're recording.
Audience Question: Have you specifically made the videos available to the media to provide them with a download link or some other option?
Dean Cunningham: What we do is we post it on all our social media. We put in our Facebook, Twitter, and on our Youtube and tell them, put a disclaimer there that you can use with credit. Let them download it, they can splice it how they want, cut as how they need it.
Kate Kimble: That's the other piece. We try not to put too much on the video in post-production in terms of label and other, for lack of word, decorations. We started branding it with our logo in case it ends up in various places. We try not to dress it up too much because we want them to be able to use it. We got a handful of cases where a media outlet has asked if they could get an original file for whatever reason, they can't or have trouble with the platforms that we put it on. We would always make that available via Dropbox if they ask for it because we really want them to use it.
Audience Question: Can you share your preferred inexpensive movie editing software?
Kate Kimble: If you're editing in the field, iMovie on an iPhone is pretty simple to use. You can get something standard. If you create some graphics on the computer you can get your graphics department or you can do it yourself with an app or something like Canva. Just as a standard backdrop with your organization's logo on it as kind of an intro screen. iMovie is really great for field editing. MovieMaker is another one. It's very very easy to make slideshows. It's a little more difficult. You can't layer images so that cutting up of the video, to splice pieces back together is a little more complicated. Those are two that are completely free.
Aaron: I'll just share this, folks, we also use Canva here at the Clearinghouse for a lot of our images. We use an online product called WeVideo. It's an online subscription kind of product. The nice thing is you don't have to have a high-end computer to be able to produce the actual movie you're releasing.
Audience Question: Could you share with us what else besides shirts are in your PIO go-bags?
Kate Kimble: Microphone, obviously the shirt of some kind, the traffic vest you can draw that on. If you don't have your PIO shirt on, you need to have something that looks somewhat official. I personally carry it next to everywhere because if you end up in a scene that might be a while. Make sure you have a friend who will let you know he has something in your teeth before you go in camera. If you have a portable battery for your phone that is worth its weight in gold. You can get them for pretty cheap on the internet. Mine carries a charge and a half towards the battery for my iPhone. If you're shooting on a video, doing a lot of editing, if you’re out in the field for a long time, you got that. I always keep it on my pocket, plug my phone when I'm out there if I'm running low so you don't have to worry about losing that battery when you need it most. The other tip that we didn't have in there is that if you're shooting a video, put your phone in airplane mode. The last thing you want is to get a great shot and get called in the middle of it. So just put your phone in airplane mode. But, do remember to take it off. It's really weird no one calls you when you're on airplane mode. You might miss out on important stuff if you forget to turn it off. That's a good way to make sure you don't ruin a great shot.
Audience Question: Has there been a discussion about changing the policy of the city and the prosecutor regarding the release of the video from the body-worn cameras?
Dean Cunningham: Each state, it varies on how the body-worn cameras are looked at. In Colorado, it's a criminal justice record. The prosecutor is the one who drives the request not to release it. In Colorado, it's entirely the decision of the chief of police whether they want to release it or not. When we started our body worn camera program back in 2012, the discussion that we had is we can always shrink the timeline but it's harder to expand the timeline. What I mean is when I say we're not going to release the video until the criminal case is completed or if it's an officer-involved shooting until the end of the investigation, that leaves us some wiggle room as far as when do we release it. What we're looking at is if we can release it without compromising the trial, we will. If there is no criminal trial we're pushing to try to release it as soon as possible. If there is a criminal trial, RDA because of the relationship that we have with them, if they asked us not to do that. Basically, as an agency, we're looking at it as if the city's on fire because of something that has happened with the police department and we believe that releasing the video will calm that uprising or the concern, we're going to release it and then just apologize to the DA later. That's kind of how our department does it. It is something that you definitely need to be thinking about as an agency is that what if this going to happen if you have body-worn cameras you are going to have to figure out what your release is. You should have that planned out ahead of time so you don't have to make a critical decision in a time of crisis.
Audience Question: As your SOP in dealing with critical incidents, do you coordinate with other agencies or organizations within your city?
Dean Cunningham: Yeah, we have, by state law in Colorado, all critical incidents, officer-involved shooting as this is what people are thinking about, needs to be a multi-jurisdictional investigation so we coordinate with the four major law enforcement agencies in Larimer County and we work with the District Attorney. One of the things we’ve written into our SOP or into our protocol is to release a prudent charge of releasing information and is all based upon what we call involved agency, the investigative agency, We get to make that decision and we pretty planned out on who's in charge of information release for investigation and for information about the officer.
Kate Kimble: Something else on this, I imagine every area has a completely different way they operate. If you got a multi-jurisdictional team and you’re not the lead speaker for it, if you’re able to, I would highly encourage you to go to if you're able to join one of those. If you're a communications person and you got a major incident. Just being able to watch in the moment and see how decisions are made and where the whole blur is incredibly informative. Of the critical incidents that I've been here for, the thing in that room we’ve learned every single time in terms of information release what questions are we going to get, how the decisions are made, having that report with your investigators and other important people in the room that's a really good way to forge relationship ahead of time. A lot of times, you don't have that opportunity because we don’t work with those agencies as closely. If that’s your only time you connect with them even if you're not the lead, it would be appropriate for you to be at the table, as an observer or somebody who can maybe contribute I would strongly recommend that.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of "Breaking Your Own News."