Critical incidents are defined as events that result in death or life-threatening injuries. They may also be events that involve the intentional use of deadly force. Critical incidents may also surround the actions of a Columbia Police Officer. The Chief, Command Level Staff, or the Public Relations Unit will provide updated and timely information to the Media during a critical incident.
High-risk operations are defined as events that possibly are unfolding at the moment (i.e. barricaded persons, hostage situation, bomb threats, tactical operations, etc.) that require the agency to carefully plan its response to restore order to the community.
During critical incidents and high-risk operations, Media cooperation is essential due to the ever-changing dynamics and fluid nature of these types of events. The Public Relations Unit will request that the Media work with the department to broadcast only those images that will not compromise officer safety or put public safety in jeopardy. The on-scene commander has authority to establish a specific location for Media personnel in order to protect the integrity of the scene (please see section on “Media Staging Area”). Media understanding and compliance with these protocols is vital for peaceful resolution to the incident and is highly appreciated by the department. During explosive related incidents, officers will maintain a certain perimeter to protect the public from possible fragmentation and over-pressure risk. Over-pressure risk refers to the shock wave that is generated by explosive devices that can cause serious injury and/or death. Law enforcement can enhance public safety by maintaining this increased perimeter at the scene. Tactics and equipment deployed are proprietary and will not be discussed in order to prevent suspects from gaining future tactical advantages. The Public Relations Unit will work with the Media on selecting a location that is safe for everyone and accomplishes the mission of reporting what is occurring.