In the wake of terrible tragedy this week in Oxford, our collective community has been left wanting for so many things – answers, compassion, resolve, leadership, healing and so much more. Having just watched Oakland Country Sherriff Mike Bouchard’s latest press conference within the past hour on this late Saturday afternoon, I was struck once again – as both a father and as a communicator – by how fortunate we are to have an individual so devoted to justice and the public he serves.
A former Chief of Police for a major metropolitan city, remarking on a national news outlet immediately following the nearly 40-minute meeting with press, commented that Bouchard had presented perhaps the finest crisis press briefing related to tragedy that he had ever seen. I would agree. Bouchard first recounted events of the past 24-hours including the manhunt that led to the arrest of parents on the run, including collaborations with and kudos to partnering police agencies. A seasoned veteran, Bouchard provided enough to inform with facts that would not compromise the continued investigation nor trial to come. Importantly, when asked by reporters about previous rumblings of miscommunications between his office and the Oakland County prosecutors, he didn’t deny them but immediately stressed that both were now in lock step and working together “like a hand in glove.” Period.
Obviously haggard and raw from working around the clock for days, Bouchard became understandably emotional when talking about community members and colleagues. He recounted hugging and speaking with citizens that had attended the previous evening’s remembrance proceedings in Oxford, where the fainting of one individual caused a near panic and stampede. He had helped calm a group saddened and frightened from his post on the main stage. He discussed the dedication of his officers, including their training that directs them, in the instance of shooter events, immediately toward the line of fire. They too, would be affected forever, he said. Finally, that emotion moved to resolve and a stern reminder to any hoax/ copycats that they would be sought out, apprehended and potentially face serious charges and significant jail time. Enough, he was saying.
His press conference today – measured, matter of fact, and tempered with heart – was exactly what this community needs at this time, including an open and honest dialogue containing facts to date, a promise to provide more details where possible in the days ahead, and a resolve to ensure safety for all, especially our kids, moving forward. His continued presence behind the scenes and in front of the camera are powerful and a salve for an open wound; like the reassuring hand on a shoulder from a trusted uncle – as he puts forth justice, by-the-book, albeit with humanity.