Editorial: Annapolis Police Department is failing the public with lack of communications

The Annapolis Police Department (APD) is failing the public – they can and should do better with communications.

This morning, APD shared a flyer on Facebook with a picture and description of the alleged, hit-and-run vehicle in an incident that happened December 30 in Eastport – considering how many days have passed since a man was hit and left severely injured, it’s shocking it took APD this long.

The post started to get a lot of shares, but within 20 minutes, APD deleted the flyer, then attached it to a post they shared yesterday – that initial post was a video of APD Chief Jackson and others talking about the hit-and run, as well as how the public could help.

Why delete today’s post that had already been shared by many, then attach the same flyer to a post from yesterday?

And what took so long to get any information about the incident to the public.

It took APD six days from the day a man was hit by a vehicle for APD to get information out to the public about it.

During those six days in which APD was silent with public information, friends, neighbors and family members were posting on Facebook asking for the public to check their security footage to see if they had video that might help police. They were also handing out flyers.

It was not until January 4 that APD decided to communicate with the public about the incident and even then, they apparently didn’t have the security footage they posted stills from today – seven days later.

That left seven days to ditch a vehicle and for a suspect to run.

Where the hit-and-run happened in Eastport is a populated area – not an area where where security camera footage would’ve been hard to get.

Seven days later does not instill confidence in APD.

To date, APD has shared nothing about the incident on Twitter. In fact, APD has shared nothing on Twitter since February 21, 2022. It’s been almost a year.

In all of 2022, APD shared seven Tweets – just seven. In August 2022, the Anne Arundel County Police Department (AACPD) shared a Tweet (https://twitter.com/AACOPD/status/1559573575551619073) because APD didn’t. That Tweet starts, “Our colleagues over at the Annapolis Police Department need your help.”

That Tweet was about a sexual assault that happened in Annapolis.

It’s sad that APD needs help from another police department to Tweet information to the public – they should be doing it routinely themselves, as this is just one of many ways police departments communicate to the public.

For many years, APD was very able to effectively communicate to the public – there were press releases galore, as well as lots of Tweets and Facebook posts. Reporters got return calls and emails. The public was informed in a timely manner about police business, road closures and emergencies.

But not for the past few years – communicating with the public hasn’t been a priority for the APD. Requests for information and interviews from reporters are ignored, daily reports aren’t always daily, but rather intermittent. and all too often, the public doesn’t learn about incidents until days after they happened.

When this reporter was with WNAV News, APD’s issues with communications was discussed in an interview with Chief Jackson – he said he was aware of the problem and he was working on it. That was over two years ago – not only have there been no changes, things have gotten worse.

After the flyer was posted today, then deleted, APD posted a job announcement for police communication operators – there was a link that has no job information. A person commented, “The job is not yet posted. Do you know when it will be posted on the website to apply?”

When the APD isn’t communicating with the public and/or not communicating effectively, it becomes a public safety issue, as well as a trust problem.

The public should be able to trust in APD to communicate what’s going on in the city in a timely manner and not days later.

What if there’s a big emergency? If the past few years are any indicator, APD is ill-prepared.

Communications with the public is paramount to public safety – the public deserves better from APD.

There is a GoFundMe for the victim of this hit-and-run. There are also rewards for information – in the flyer APD released today, they neglected to mention the reward being offered by the family.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter.

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