My three-part drug bust series had been up less than a week when a reporter friend called and said the Attorney General’s Office was holding a news conference on a second bust. This time they arrested 16 people. Four former students were involved but no current ones.
The arrests were made as part of the continuing Operation Failing Grade investigation.
As a courtesy the office invited our president, Maravene Loeschke, to attend. My news director and I rode with her to the state police barracks. I’ve described in the previous posts the absolute professional way the Attorney General’s office conducts press conferences.
I had some new insights with this one.
The Attorney General, Tom Corbett, a down-to-earth, friendly guy, shook hands with Dr. Loeschke. “You look a little more relaxed than you did the last time,” he joked. She agreed. The exchange set a good tone.
We had 20 minutes until the 11 a.m. conference so we were led into a back room with Corbett, the DA and other officials. An officer offered me coffee and pastries. We talked about the Pennsylvania primaries, sports, and, of course, the drug problem in America.
“Now let me be sure I’m correct that four of those arrested are former students.” Dr. Loeschke said to Corbett.
“Would you be kind enough to make that very clear during your presentation?”
Corbett nodded. “Of course.”
He was good to his word, emphasizing to the room packed full of newspaper and TV folks that four of those arrested were former students, adding that there were no arrests on campus and that drugs are a problem throughout the state.
When he finished, he invited the president to the podium. She thanked the various law enforcement agencies on their work. “. . . I don’t think we have a drug problem on campus,” she said. “We had a drug incident. The majority of our students come to Mansfield to get away from these things. . . .If (drugs) are on our campus or in any part of our community, we are going to be a part of the partnership to get them out.”
I share this to emphasize that cooperation is the key in PR situations like this. I’m pretty sure that because our president was up front, candid and cooperative during the first press conference in 2006, she was invited to this one. Because things were handled professionally (and our personal interactions were pretty informal) everyone felt good with each other.
It made this second drug bust conference – like this particular post – an anti-climax.
And that’s a good thing.