Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Study in Crisis Communications

Alexandria, Virginia's Police Chief David P. Baker was arrested by Arlington, Virginia police officers for Driving Under the Influence on Saturday.  Today Baker announced that he would resign.  At a press conference, Alexandria city officials, expressed their sorrow over this extremely uncharacteristic behavior.  Baker's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit.

Baker has apparently served for almost twenty years with distinction and respect.  Unfortunately, it takes just one mistake to derail a career.  In Baker's case this is an admittedly HUGE mistake that could've cost lives.  

When asked if this was the end to Baker's career, Alexandria City Manager Jim Hartmann responded, "I'm not prepared to say that right now. We're looking at all the facts of the case. This is a very serious situation.”

While this may be the end of Baker's time as Alexandria's Top Cop, I believe that because of the way he handled this crisis, it's certainly not the end END for him.  

He admitted that he was wrong and violated the public trust.  He did the only honorable thing. by stepping down.  In my view, the worst way to communicate in the midst of a crisis is to lie and pretend that 1) the bad deed did not happen or 2) you had nothing to do with the bad deed.

Despite Hartman's uncertainty, Baker will survive this tragedy and will very likely rebuild his career.