Media's Role in Enforcement Programs

All the components of a good law (and community-based) enforcement program—creating awareness, alerting the public and the actual enforcement event—benefit from media coverage. The goal is to garner substantial media attention, not give numerous tickets. If 10 motorists receive tickets and 100,000 people hear about it, the enforcement effort will have a bigger impact than if officers issue 100 tickets and only the recipients know what happened. The key to a successful campaign is to provide information before the enforcement event occurs to encourage community support and facilitate positive coverage. Without such prior notification, motorists may claim to be caught by surprise, which can lead to negative publicity.

There are many ways to involve the media. For example:

  • Neighborhood groups or community leaders can hold a press conference to talk about pedestrian safety and tell the public that they are requesting more enforcement.
  • Organizers can provide the press with packets of information about walking and safety statistics.
  • Informed members of the community can be available to talk to the media. A child who is well-versed in the pedestrian problems in the neighborhood can provide an important perspective. Hearing a child explain how difficult it is to cross a street will have a bigger impact than reading a statistic.

The entire community can be made aware of the enforcement effort in a variety of ways to ensure they know what will happen before the program begins in force. Event organizers can:

  • Publish an article in the local newspaper.
  • Send an e-mail to residents.
  • Put up speed reader boards so drivers see for themselves what their speeds are compared to posted speeds.
  • Post information signs near where the enforcement effort will occur.

In ethnically diverse communities, providing safety messages to the public in varying languages and with culturally relevant messages will be critical for the success of the effort.