In May of this year, I testified at a hearing in San Francisco where city leaders questioned the police department’s funding and use of public relations professionals. That funding was heavier than you might expect.

According to police department documents provided to the County Board of Supervisors, budget items included a nine-person full-time team managed by a director of strategic communications who alone costs the city $289,423; an undisclosed number of cops paid part-time to do PR work on social media; a Community Engagement Unit tracking public opinion; officers who intervene with the families of victims of police violence and who are dispatched to the scenes of police violence to control initial media reaction; and a full-time videographer making PR videos about cops.

San Francisco is not unique. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has 42 employees doing PR work in what it calls, in Orwellian fashion, its “Information Bureau.” The Los Angeles Police Department has another 25 employees devoted to formal PR work.

Why do police invest so much in manipulating our perceptions of what they do? I call this phenomenon “copaganda”: creating a gap between what police actually do and what people think they do.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.


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