Speak More, Say Less

With the three-day holiday, I'll hold my "Missing Person Monday"  offering until Thursday, but will have another post for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the following story caught my eye.

Happy Labor Day to all.

*Note: My purpose with this post is not to address the racial element involved in the incident, but rather to provide an example of how quickly a person can be reassigned for selecting a descriptive word disliked by the boss: the seemingly innocuous term "very" in this instance. 

This is from the Saturday edition of the Des Moines, Iowa newspaper:

Police spokeswoman moved after remarks on fairgrounds fights

Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw reassigned her department's spokeswoman Thursday, two weeks after Sgt. Lori Lavorato said it was "very possible" fights near the Iowa State Fairgrounds had racial overtones...

Bradshaw, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, raised concerns about statements Lavorato made after a series of fights outside the fairgrounds last month.

A supplemental report about the Aug. 20 incident filed by Sgt. Dave Murillo said, "On-duty officers at the fairgrounds advise there was a group of 30 to 40 individuals roaming the fairgrounds openly calling it 'beat whitey night.' "

While answering questions from the news media three days later, Lavorato said, "It's all under investigation, but it's very possible it has racial overtones."

Police commanders later said they found no credible evidence the fights were racially motivated.

"I had some real concerns with us making that leap and making a remark like that publicly," Bradshaw told The Des Moines Register in an Aug. 26 interview. "That's a huge statement that, quite frankly, can provoke emotions on both sides of the issue.

"People are very sensitive to remarks like that, so I had some real grave concerns about us stepping out and I wanted to make certain that we were right to message the State Fair events that way."

Lavorato, 36, a police public information officer since May 2009, will work in the department's traffic unit. Sgt. Jeff Edwards, 40, will transfer from the traffic unit to replace Lavorato effective Sept. 13.

Lavorato confirmed her new assignment, but declined to say whether the move was voluntary.

Lavorato said her pay was not affected by the move, but she will lose her take-home unmarked police vehicle and extra compensation she received for being on call seven days a week.

Being the public information officer for a law enforcement agency can be a difficult job.

Make one statement that causes grief for the chief, and you'll find yourself being called "former spokesperson" faster than green grass through a goose.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, I did laugh at a comment from one of the Des Moines newspaper site's readers who described himself as a retired big city police officer (using the name "Rocymet"):
It is not the job of a police spokesman or information officer to inform the public but to protect the mayor, city and police department.

As a retired big city police officer I know that a quick way to get to get into trouble is to lie but the quickest way is to tell the truth.

Any decent spokesman should be able to talk for hours without either lying or telling the truth.
Now that I think about it, my former agency hired a non-sworn (non-officer) to act as the agency media liaison, and his best asset was endless blabber that included little substance.   

I wonder if they market that talent to prospective undergradute communications students?

I mean the skill set: speak more and say less.


Brian Miller said...

ha. yes sometimes saying the truth does have its repucushions, but who wants to hear the truth...based on the "beat whitey night" i would have made the same leap...unless it is referinf to baking and meringue...see i coulda been wrong as well...

Bob G. said...

You have to consider the DOUBLE-STANDARD this society labors under these days.
A BEAT WHITEY NIGHT is surely NOT racial, but a BEAT BLACKIE NIGHT would be heard AROUND the world...several times over if the MSM got wind of it.

Sorry, racism cuts BOTH ways.

Good post.

Have great labor Day.

Diane said...

Touchy situation all the way around! :O)

Momma Fargo said...

Great words. We have the same type of PIO here. Blab, blab about nothing. And the media loves him because they say he talks to them and informs them of the city's ongoings. Funny.

Elana Johnson said...

I think this is true in all politics. There's a lot being spoken, but nothing being said.

Elana Johnson said...

I think this is true in all politics. There's a lot being spoken, but nothing being said.

Luisa Doraz said...

I believe we should all be who we are and do what we know is right...not bothering others along the way. Everyone should have a right to express their views..not matter where they come from, right? Stay well and happy.

Slamdunk said...

@ Bob G.: Since the agency said they investigated the allegation and did not substantiate it, I'll assume that the comment was unfounded. If the community is having these types of issues, a police chief and spokesperson will only be able to hide it temporarily--so we shall see then.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Working for the government is difficult...they want to do what's best for the public but they also want to make everyone happy. Those two things don't usually go together!

Anonymous said...

saying just one wrong word would suck

kathryn said...

Interesting...and they never did explain what other possible explanation there could be for the expression "beat whitey"?

Beat up only people wearing white?

Possibly there is an individual by the name of "Whitey" who was in for a whooping?? I can't imagine...

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I had to give a Treasurer's report like that. I told them all the good stuff and left out all the bad. It worked almost until the end, b/c I do not have a thick enough veneer for that. Some veneer, just not enough veneer.

Yeah, it's a difficult job.
Ann T.