Part 2: Where We Are Now...
Late last year we had some changes here at the Cape Coral Police Department that impacted our Public Affairs Office. Chief Jay Murphy retired after 30+ years, and our new Chief, Bart Connelly, took the helm. Chief Connelly quickly selected then Captain David Newlan as Deputy Chief, creating a vacancy in our Professional Standards Bureau. Our Public Affairs Officer (at the time) Lieutenant Tony Sizemore was tapped to fill that spot on an interim basis (and was just made permanent), turning the two-man-show that was the Public Affairs Office, into a one-man-band. And so it has been since October of last year.
Do you remember the feeling the first time your parents tossed you the keys to the car? It was kind of like that. Take it slow. Be careful. Don't wreck it! As you go down the road, you are learning a new skill, getting more comfortable, and developing proficiency. So, for the first few months, I focused on "keeping it between the lines"- Regular news releases, updates on social media, the occasional video, photo, or audio update, and learning the other duties of the Public Affairs Officer. I also spent a lot more time in front of the camera talking to the press. It took me a while, but I got the hang of it (more or less). The last couple of months has been mostly about striking the balance between in front of the camera, and behind the scenes. The balance part is still a work in progress.
Yet, even though this past 11 months has been mostly about taking a conservative approach and learning to do (even) more with (even) less, the Public Affairs Office still managed to bring some new things to the table and continued opening lines of communication between our citizens and their Police Officers. In January, we launched "Coffee With A Cop," a program that gives our citizens a chance to meet and talk with Officers from our Patrol Bureau in a non-threatening environment over a cup of coffee. Participants get to ask questions, talk about problems, and most importantly get to know their Officers. And, in June, we launched Ping4alerts!, a "hyperlocal" mobile alerts app for iOS and Android that allows us to send real-time, targeted emergency alerts to citizens when and where they need them. The Public Affairs Office may be a bit leaner these days, but that's no reason not to innovate!
Next: The State of (Public) Affairs Part 3: Where we are headed...
About the author:
Det. Sergeant Dana Coston is a 17 year law enforcement veteran who is assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police. He is the Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department. He also serves as the Department's Webmaster and Social Media Manager, testing and evaluating platforms and technologies for use in the Cape Coral Police Department Social Media Program.
Det. Sergeant Coston previously served as a Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer, Detective assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Patrol Sergeant, and Professional Standards Bureau Sergeant where he oversaw Personnel, Training, and Internal Affairs. He is an instructor for the Cape Coral Police Department in the areas of baton, firearms, and Media Relations, and has instructed all over SW Florida on gang identification and prevention, and the application of Social Media in Law Enforcement.
Det. Sergeant Coston holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and History from Emory University. He is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners and the National Information Officers Association. He is a certified Gang Specialist, FBI Domestic Human Intelligence Collector, and was an adjunct instructor to the FBI Academy teaching human source recruitment.