KCRA–CHP FALLEN OFFICER REMEMBERED
WEDNESDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 27, 2017
I walked into the newsroom at 9:30 AM, my normal start time, making it a point to walk by the assignment desk first to let them know I was there. Right away I was told that I would be covering a memorial at the CHP [California Highway Patrol] Academy in West Sacramento and had to be there and in place by 10:30 for the ceremony to start at 11, and to take a TVU backpack for sending back a live picture for editing up for a Noon VO-SOT. Since the Academy is in next door in West Sacramento and only ten or so minutes away, this was easy.
Then I was asked to do this as a natural sound piece or one of my packages.
(Since I am not a “staff reporter” I cannot be assigned, but have to be asked, and I can always pass. But, since I started doing reporter-photographer packages I have accepted as a personal challenge to accept all assignments–for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can do them.)
I have done one other story involving a death–the natural death of the former director of the Sacramento Zoo. It is a very great responsibility because you are dealing with a life and the family and everyone who knows the individual involved, either personally or in passing, is going to be scrutinizing your story. There can be no excuses. You have to get it all right.
This is an event greater responsibility when dealing with the loss of a first-responder — a police officer or firefighter.
The officer being honored was CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri, who was killed when a car driven by a DUI driver drifted over and smashed into Officer Camilleri’s CHP car, parked on the shoulder at approximately 11:30 PM on Sunday evening, Christmas Eve.
There were crews from all the Sacramento TV stations, the Sacramento Bee newspaper, Bay Area stations and newspapers and we were in a limited space. I wound up setting my camera/tripod up off to the side and away from them in some bushes and had to rely on the double-extender of my zoom lens to get my coverage.
Also, for interviews we had only the acting commissioner of the CHP and Officer Camilleri’s commanding officer from Hayward, California, where this incident took place. So there were great limitations. But as you will see and hear, Capt. Tim Pearson from CHP in Hayward gave a very thoughtful and carrying interview.
This is important because this is a sensitive story and it is so much more respectful for the life of the individual who is being honored and reported on to hear from someone who can convey to the audience, who for the most part does not know this fallen officer, who he was and what type of person he was and–to be bluntly honest–why people at home watching their TVs should care about someone who they do not know.
So let me express my sincere thanks to CHP Capt. Tim Pearson for his openness and his candor.
GETTING THE STORY ON THE AIR
Based on the gravity of the story, I knew that it would be in the lead section of the 4 o’clock news. So when I returned to the station around 12:30, I had three and a half hours to get it logged, written, edited, and have a senior manager review it.
There was not that much interview sound to log, so the logging went quickly, and I had a script by 2:15 or 2:30, which I immediately started editing.
RECORDING REPORTER AUDIO TRACK: I usually have to do lots of starts and stops to get the pronunciation and intonation right, but this time I did it pretty much only once. Perhaps it helped that I had recorded my own track for my story the previous day on the Donner Ski Ranch lack of snow for Christmas.
EDITING: The editing went smoothly, but I took extra time because of the delicacy of the subject matter–and I needed it to be right.
Before the story aired I showed it to Angie Sheets, KCRA Executive Assignment Editor, who gave me an enthusiastic approval.
The story aired near the top of the 4 o’clock news.
I knew it would also run in the 6 o’clock news, also and hour-long newscast, which typically has a slightly looser format. For this airing I was allowed to expand the story, adding 30-seconds of interview sound and another track that I didn’t have time to fit in the 4 o’clock version.
Working in TV news requires responsibility and accuracy. It’s also a team effort. And it’s vital, at every step of the way, to pay attention to detail and get the story right.
Most particularly when it is about the life of a dedicated individual who is no longer with us.