Interview with Bruce Frazier, Public Relations Specialist at the Dalton Police Department
Bruce Frazier graduated in 2002 from the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a degree in broadcast news. After spending the next few years covering sports for local TV stations in Dalton, Toccoa, and Columbus, Georgia he joined the Dalton Police Department in 2008 as the agency’s Public Relations Specialist.
What event or series of events led you to pursue the role of police officer as your professional choice? Please elaborate.
As a matter of fact, I am not a police officer. I am a civilian employee of the Dalton Police Department serving as the agency’s Public Relations Specialist (most agencies call my job “Public Information Officer”). My background is in journalism and I held a few jobs covering sports at small TV stations around Georgia. At the end of one of my contracts I was looking around for my next job and I joined the PD. The agency feels it is best to have a civilian with media experience in this role so as to better understand the needs of the media covering our agency instead of having to train a certified police officer to fill that role.
Name 1 or 2 guidelines you would offer the police officer just entering the field?
The most important thing for officers entering this field is to listen. Listen to the more experienced officers around you, listen to the people you are dealing with in the community, listen to everything. Here at the Dalton Police Department, new officers are put into the Field Training Program after graduation from the academy or joining our agency from another agency (experienced officers go through a shorter time as a field trainee). New officers ride with an FTO for as long as a year to get real world experience while being guided by a veteran officer. Sometimes, a rookie officer might start to feel like they know everything while still in this process, but that’s a mistake. Always take every opportunity to learn from those who have something to teach you. And, obviously, another is to never let your guard down. Situations can go “bad” very quickly and often when officers least expect it. Never let your guard down, and know that situations aren’t always what meet the eye. Sometimes the person who appears to be the aggressor or the “bad guy” is actually the victim and it takes a wise person to know the difference.
How would you advise an individual entering the law enforcement profession to proceed? What are the challenges, or obstacles that may be faced?
I’d advise someone entering the field to find an agency nearby that has a ride-along program. If you can find an agency that lets citizens do ride alongs, go along and ride for a Friday or Saturday night shift. If it’s not for you, you’ll find out very quickly that way! The academy in Georgia is a tough experience, but you can get through it. There can be physical fitness challenges to overcome, there can be difficulties with certain aspects of the academy such as firearms qualification, etc. but these can be overcome as well.
What role do you see social media playing in the profession and the pursuit of offenders in the world of criminal justice today?
Social media is one of the biggest parts of my job with the agency, and it plays a very big role in what we do. Our investigators routinely get surveillance images of suspects in cases from businesses with camera equipment, and we put it out on our Facebook or Twitter or blog site as well as in area media. It’s rare for us to not get a response from the public with the suspect’s identity, and we usually get that info in a matter of hours. Also, instead of relying on the media to help us get our messages across, we can now take that information directly to the public through our blog site and our social media platforms. And as investigators, you’d be amazed how much information regarding drugs and other crime you can find on social media. Younger people especially put all sorts of information out there which can lead our investigators in the right direction. I’d say knowledge of social media and technology is going to be an important tool in a police officer’s tool belt from now on.
In your opinion, what are the most important technological advances that have taken place in law enforcement in the past 5-10 years and how do these advances impact your profession?
Cameras. They’re everywhere. The dashboard camera and wearable cameras for officers are incredibly useful. And it’s not just our cameras. Surveillance cameras are now becoming more common not just in businesses but also in private homes, and they’re invaluable in solving cases. Whenever something happens around people whether it be a fight or any other kind of situation that would require police involvement, you can bet that someone has cell phone video of it. Cameras have really changed the way law enforcement investigations work.
What do you see as your most important strength and how does this strength show itself in your work?
Integrity is the most important thing for a police officer to have. Investigative skills, proficiency with the tools of a police officer and other aspects of the job can be taught. But integrity is something that develops really from birth. If a person is a man or woman of integrity then they’re going to have a great chance to succeed with our agency.
We would like to thank Bruce Frazier for sharing his insights with our audience.