GBI discusses handling of Charles Smith case, interaction with media

GBI discusses handling of Charles Smith case, interaction with media

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - They are often the ones responsible for passing along information to us, before we report it to you when it comes to police investigations.

Public information officers in law enforcement met to talk about how they interact with the media, especially when it comes to officer-involved investigations.

Tuesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation hosted a workshop to talk to area officers about what the Bureau has learned from its own experiences, and used the officer-involved shooting of Charles Smith from 2014 as their example.

"The Charles Smith case was chosen just because there was a lot of uproar and controversy involved in that case, and since then we've had time to look back, hindsight is 20-20, and we've been able to correct some things that we do on officer-involved shootings so we can provide adequate information in a timely manner to media," said Cyrus Purdiman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

The GBI hosts the quarterly meetings to help guide law enforcement agencies around the state through the process of handling high profile and law enforcement involved cases, specifically when it comes to the media.

"I think this is a good tool to help me educate other officers if they are put in the position to where they have to speak to the media in my place, about what they should or should not say. Again, depending on the situation, to be careful with their words and not make a bad situation worse," said Lt. Emory Randolph, Tybee Island Police Department.

The GBI focused on the Charles Smith case because of the controversy and unrest in the community after a Savannah-Chatham Metro officer shot and killed Smith while he was in restraints. The GBI agent says the Bureau puts more emphasis on transparency now, and releasing information to the public faster, so long as it doesn't jeopardize the investigation.

"We work for the public, we need the public. And we want to keep them involved as much as we can, especially in high-profile cases, or cases involving the law enforcement. One of the things we have to get away from is the mistrust of law enforcement. I feel like if we can open up to the public and provide information in a timely manner, then it will make our relationship better with the public," said GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Cyrus Purdiman.

Agencies from Augusta to Brunswick, Long County to Tybee Island were represented Tuesday.

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