What is empathy and why is it so important to display it during a news briefing? Basically, empathy is showing your audience that you care about what they care about. If you succeed at this, your audience is more likely to trust and believe in you.

Case in point involves the shooting deaths of five people, including a young boy, in San Jacinto County, Texas. Authorities say a man was firing a gun in his front yard, and when neighbors complained, he became angry and killed five of them. The man ran away, leading authorities to organize a massive manhunt.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers held a news briefing in which he made it clear that he was putting everything else aside in efforts to find the suspect. Capers said it didn’t matter to him that four of the five victims were illegal immigrants. His only concern was arresting the suspect, as you will see in the clip below.

In focusing exclusively on the manhunt, Capers came across as sincere and strong. He demonstrated that he cared about what the victim’s families and county residents cared about. The sheriff’s empathy almost certainly built up his credibility with county residents. That credibility will be an invaluable asset to Capers if he faces additional crises as the sheriff of San Jacinto County.