Following a false report last September of a lockdown at Lafayette High, Lafayette Police Department hosted a forum, discussing negative effects the media has with ongoing police investigations.
By Hannah Simmons
Lafayette Police Department (LPD) hosted its annual year-end review with media organizations on Nov.13.
The forum, intended to relay the year’s crime statistics, turned into a discussion of the negative effects of media interaction in ongoing police investigations.
Public Information Officers Cpl. Bridgette P. Dugas and Lt. John Mowell discussed the recent Lafayette High School lockdown in September describing how the situation was unnecessarily intensified by media involvement.
“That day was hell,” Dugas said in reference to the lockdown.
Students spent most of the day in a lockdown after the school received a threatening phone call. Multiple media groups were on site reporting during the lockdown.
Mowell said media presence drew in crowds and therefore avoidable chaos by drawing attention to the situation. He said that in one instance a reporter, rushing to relay the situation, gave incorrect information.
“Its dangerous. Its dangerous for the public,” Mowell said.
The situation Mowell referred to was when a student was detained and questioned before being released. However, it was reported that someone had been arrested in connection to the school lockdown.
Some reporters at the forum shared the opinion that media presence did not worsen the chaos because the high school students were already spreading news of the lockdown through text messages and social media.
Megan Wyatt, reporter for The Acadiana Advocate, said communication is important for building a working relationship between reporters and law enforcement. She said it’s important for law enforcement officers to trust that reporters will not misuse the information given to them.
“There is frustration on both sides,” Wyatt said. “We all have to be open and honest about what we’re doing.”
The meeting was held by the LPD in partnership with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
A video posted by KATC’s YouTube on the Lafayette High School Lockdown created confusion with Lafayette Police Department, parents.