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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

A revised law enforcement message that is complete and consistent


incomplete law enforcement emergency message

We've written about law enforcement messages in the past, showing how they can be "tricky" to write about because of the uncertainty of the situation and the actions that people should take to protect themselves. This time, we'd like to show you how to use the practices from the Warning Response Model to improve a message so that it is complete, clear, and consistent.


The original message was issued without a source, hazard, or time.


A close read suggests that the writer included the last sentence to help reduce fears that individuals who do not comply with the alert may be in danger. It could be perceived as reassuring in a sort of "do what I say and you'll be safe."


We can improve this message dramatically by re-organizing the contents and following the Warning Response Model guidance for contents, structure, and style.


revised law enforcement activity message

In the revised message, we start with the message source, which signifies a trusted organization that is also responsible for completing the response.


The hazard "law enforcement activity" is vague, but communicates that law enforcement is on the scene, they are active, and they want you to be safe.


The location information remains the same as the initial message. We have added the element of time and also indicated that additional information will follow (at further notice).


And we also include the guidance that was in the initial message, but we use ALL CAPS to help draw attention to those actions.


This revised message follows what is taught in the FEMA-IPAWS Message Design Dashboard courses as well as the Warning Lexicon. By using a consistent format and consistent contents, message receivers can become more familiar with WEA "look at feel" and better understand who they come from and what to do in response.


For more recommended contents, be sure to download The Warning Lexicon - it's free and offers step-by-step instructions on how to write a better warning message.

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