Denver Police are apologizing for a tweet sent out over the weekend, which, in turn, has sparked a conversation about how the department views journalists' roles in the community.
Sunday, the Denver Police Twitter account posted, "DENVER'S BREAKING NEWS WITH NO POP UPS? - or advertisers of any kind? Follow Denver Police for the fastest most accurate news about Denver."
Several journalists, including Kyle Clark, questioned whether the Denver Police Department, a government agency, was trying to steer people away from a free press, and toward its official line. Kyle asked DPD Deputy Chief Matt Murray if he thinks they are providing journalism.
Murray explained that while they distribute news, like updates in a developing situation, officers are not filling the role of journalists.
"You can't have people with badges and guns coming up to people's houses, and doing interviews, and the kinds of things that a free press does," he said in an interview with Next with Kyle Clark.
He went on to say, "A free and independent media is a critical piece of a free society ... We also understand as a police department, that because of the impact we can have on people’s lives, we deserve a special degree of scrutiny, and the media is often in the best position to do that."
Based on responses, Murray says he quickly realized how people interpreted his tweet, and he never meant to put down journalists in Denver.
"That’s not the best tweet we ever had. We certainly won’t write that again, but the intent was not as the message was received, and so I apologize for that," he said. "I’m the one that wrote the tweet, and I’m the one that chose the picture, and I regret that I did."
Murray posted the tweet after he had gone searching for a viral video of the Sterling fire station. He was frustrated by ads in front of the video on news websites.
"We’re not trying to steer people away from the media," he said. "What you all do is critical and we can’t do it, and we recognize that."
Denver Police, like many organizations and individuals, are trying to navigate the "brave new world" of social media, Murray said. Part of that includes finding the department's role in disseminating information, and the process they choose to do that. Murray said DPD's communications team constantly strives to build a trusting relationship with the public.
Despite frustration with pop-up ads, Murray said he sees the value of news organizations that are not under the umbrella of the government - even if the pop-up ads are what pay for those organizations to exist.
We also discussed Denver Police's policy for correcting its mistakes. You can see that in our full interview with Murray here: