San Bernardino Police Boost Community Engagement With Podcast Series – San Bernardino Sun

San Bernardino Police, looking for ways to better connect with the community, believe they have found a solution by tapping into the rapidly growing field of podcasting.

Police Lt. Michele Mahan and Staff Sgt. Jose Castro said that by launching the “San Bernardino PD Briefing Room” audio podcast, they have taken a thoughtful approach to achieving their goal: to build a better understanding between the department and the community of over 215,000 people.

“We blow ourselves up when the cops do bad things,” Castro said. “We want to blow up the good stuff (the police are doing it).”

Mahan is a 25 year veteran with the ministry while Castro has been with the ministry for 16 years. Having known Castro through various missions over the years, Mahan felt he would be a suitable co-host who could help them achieve their goal.

The duo record podcasts every few weeks and it’s not uncommon for them to record multiple episodes in one sitting. They use the department’s strength option simulation room as a makeshift studio because of its acoustic friendliness, Mahan said.

Lieutenant Michele Mahan and Staff Sgt. Jose Castro are the co-hosts of the San Bernardino Police Department podcast “San Bernardino PD Briefing Room”. (Photo by Quinn Wilson, The Sun / SCNG)

Tamrin Olden, Founder of Law Enforcement Social Media Training, a Rancho Cucamonga-based company experienced in managing social media for law enforcement in Southern California – of which the San Bernardino Police Department is not a client – addressed the question of whether a podcast is a good decision. for an organization in a recent blog.

“(Law enforcement agencies) really need to assess the needs of your community,” Olden said. “Doing something innovative or progressive like a podcast can be effective, with recent numbers showing that 55% of Americans listen to podcasts, (podcasting) is growing and continues to grow.”

Olden also pointed out that large podcast business requires the right staff and resources. She said consistency is one of the most important aspects of efficiency.

“Some agencies will start (a podcast) and then it goes down and they don’t do it anymore,” Olden said.

The first episode of the podcast was released on March 23 of this year and has been posted every two weeks since April 13. Episodes usually last between 30 and 40 minutes. They are free and not supported by advertising. The show covered a range of topics across seven episodes that range from broad and general to specific and timely.

An episode was devoted to the complex question of human trafficking, which Mahan noted has long been a problem in San Bernardino; while another focused on street takeover events by off-road vehicles that plagued the community throughout May. They also discussed women in law enforcement, with Lt. Jennifer Kohrell and Detective Kim Hernandez joining the conversation; and recently addressed the issue of illegal fireworks.

The couple also have a recurring segment titled “mean tweets,” in which they’ll read some of the social media reviews the department receives. In fact, their human trafficking episode stems from a resident accusing the department of not properly cracking down on prostitution, Mahan said.

“We wanted to help residents understand issues like prostitution as more than just a nuisance,” Mahan said.

Lauri Stevens, founder of LAwS Communications, a Washington DC-based law enforcement media management firm, first saw the podcast in early June and was impressed with it, she said.

“If (the hosts are) really honest and open and telling their stories, I don’t see how they could go wrong,” Stevens said. “The more they talk about their work and stay interactive with the community, the more everyone will benefit. “

Olden cautioned any law enforcement agency pursuing a podcast to be on top of their local community’s climate and stay professional and down to earth.

“People love Netflix documentaries, people love (the TV show) ‘COPS’, people love realistic police-type shows,” Olden said. “There’s a lot of value in showing what’s going on behind the scenes. “

The podcast is an addition to the police department’s community affairs department, which has been reinvented since the city went bankrupt in 2017, Mahan said. What was once a single lieutenant and civilian assistant handling community affairs and attending public meetings, the division is now staffed to manage social media, create flyers, coordinate events and press conferences, and create videos.

“When COVID hit and there was a lot less face-to-face contact, we wanted to continue our community outreach and that accelerated the shift from person to person to online,” Mahan said.

As for the future of the series, Mahan said they intend to continue producing episodes until there is nothing more to say – an unlikely scenario, she said. declared.

The podcast managed to reach a much larger audience than either host anticipated. The show averaged around 328 downloads per episode in the first six installments, according to metrics shared by Mahan. The analyzes also reveal that the audience covers more than 200 cities and 15 countries, including the United Kingdom and South Korea, according to Castro.

However, the multinational reach is moving away from the show’s goal of better connecting with their community, Castro said.

“Ultimately my goal with the podcast is to make our citizens proud,” Castro said. “The fact that we are (listened to) in other countries is kind of the icing on the cake, but I want our citizens here to be proud of their police service.”

“San Bernardino PD Briefing Room” can be streamed on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

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