April 8, 2024

Leesburg Police Department Leads the Way with New FBI-LEEDA Media and Public Relations Training

2.2 min read| Published On: April 8th, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Leesburg Police Department Leads the Way with New FBI-LEEDA Media and Public Relations Training

2.2 min read| Published On: April 8th, 2024|

The Leesburg Police Department is making strides in law enforcement leadership by hosting its first-ever FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA) training class. The week-long class, focusing on Media and Public Relations, marks a significant step in enhancing the department’s capabilities in community engagement and media relations for leaders all over the country.

FBI-LEEDA, established in 1991, aims to advance the science and art of law enforcement leadership. The organization offers a range of training programs, including the Media and Public Relations class, designed to equip law enforcement executives with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively lead their agencies.

“We are learning to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time,” Sgt. Shannon Walsh with the LPD says.

Instructor and communications specialist Sarah Connolly expressed gratitude for the opportunity to host the FBI-LEEDA class, emphasizing the importance of investing in training that brings value back to departments and communities. The class, attended by 17 participants from various law enforcement agencies, government agencies and other community leaders from more than five different states, provided an open setting for meaningful discussions and practical takeaways.

“Community and media relations is about relationship, both with the media and with the community,” Alabama resident Scott Owens says. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve learned here. Everything that we do is about building, maintaining, engaging, and empowering our community.”

Similarly, former broadcast journalist Cynthia McLaughlin shared her experience from media to PIO.

“A lot of these government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and public safety agencies are doing a lot with little resources,” Cynthia says. “Responding to media inquiries and public records requests is such a small part of the job. There’s a lot of coordination internally. We’re also running our own social media. It’s almost like we’re managing our agency’s brand. So there’s a lot that we’re juggling, but we’re still prioritizing and learning this week, the value of responding timely, with as much information as we can share without compromising an investigation.”

Madeline Scarborough, representing the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, shared her excitement about implementing new strategies learned during the class. Scarborough emphasized the importance of preventing the spread of misinformation and maintaining public trust through accurate and timely communication.

“I’m excited to go back and be able to more confidently implement this new information that is going to help if a crisis were to arise,” Madeline says.  “And just knowing that I can go out a little bit more confidently, to reassure the community, and be able to keep everybody up to date with the correct information and stop the spread of misinformation and any sort of panic is just great.”

The group also learned that the phrase, “no comment,” should not be in their vocabulary.

“It’s our job,” Sarah says. “We should always have something to say, even if we can’t share every detail yet.”

The Media and Public Relations class is part of FBI-LEEDA’s comprehensive leadership training curriculum, which includes courses such as the Command Leadership Institute (CLI), Supervisor Leadership Institute (SLI), and Executive Leadership Institute (ELI). These courses aim to develop well-rounded leaders capable of navigating the complexities of modern law enforcement.

For more information about FBI-LEEDA and its training programs, visit www.fbileeda.org.


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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography, and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and produces Style Magazine's Sports Hub Podcast and the Healthy Living Podcast. She also produces for Beacon College’s Telly Award-winning PBS show, “A World of Difference.” When she isn’t working, Cindy loves traveling the National Parks with her husband , Ryan, and son, David, photographing wildlife.

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