Debate: Police Coverage in the Media

January 29, 2017

BYU Law Federalist Society and the BYU Law Military National Security Club co-hosted a debate on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. Speakers Scott Erickson, a former police officer, and Nate Carlisle, a Salt Lake Tribune writer, spoke on police coverage in the media.

Erickson spent 20 years working in California as a police officer, and is now a nonprofit executive. He holds a Master of Science degree in criminal justice studies from the University of Cincinnati. Nate Carlisle writes for the Salt Lake Tribune on polygamy, military, and race issues. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Erickson spoke about law enforcement issues that have become relevant over the past 5-7 years. A prominent change he addressed was the militarization of police. According to Erickson, police SWAT teams and police para-military units have contributed to the militarization of police. He explained three incidents that added to the police force revolution: the North Hollywood shoot-out, the Columbine shooting, and 9/11. These incidents changed how police are trained to handle active-shooter situations.

Erickson also gave input on the recent push for “de-policing” in communities. “I believe every community has the right to demand what kind of police involvement they want, but there are consequences,” he said. “We are seeing crime rise in some communities.”

Carlisle discussed whether the media has remained fair and balanced in coverage of law enforcement. “Has the police’s use of force received too much media attention?” he asked and then answered, “No! But every journalist should be trying to get the police’s side as well.

“Another point to remember is that just because police followed all the policies does not necessarily mean that was the best way to handle the situation.”