In all the years that I’ve used a microphone in a pistol grip out in public, I never once worried it would be mistaken for a gun. Maybe I should have, but it just didn’t occur to me. I can’t think of any gun that looks like my rig.
For Martin Kaste, however, that’s a real issue. Martin is a law enforcement reporter for NPR. He’s been reporting on that beat for a few years. And he’s figured out how to make sure his mic doesn’t look like a weapon.
This is only one of many challenges Martin faces when he records a ride-along with on-duty officers. One big issue is making sure suspects don’t think he’s working for the police. Another is getting honest tape from suspects when an officer is standing right there. Just trying to convince police departments they should give permission to ride-along is fraught.
Martin lays out some of the ways he navigates these issues on this episode of HowSound. Our chat is an excellent primer on reporting ride-alongs. Including these two tips on building relationships with police officers and departments.