Beginning in the summer of 2013 and preparing for the start of the new school year, the Berwyn Police Department was able to assign a full-time school resource officer (SRO) to our three middle schools in District 98 and 100. With the start of this great program, new SRO Jen Stillo was looking for ways to reach out to the school kids she would be teaching and working with on a daily basis. In today’s tech-savvy society, what better way to connect with kids than to utilize social media outlets.
With the social media concept in mind, SRO Stillo and Crime Intelligence Analyst Wayne Sedore jumped on this public relations venture and went into production mode to create a YouTube music video of Carly Rea Jepsen’s hit song “Call me Maybe” with Berwyn police personnel. In law enforcement, the stereotypical image portrayed at times is that of a tough, unsmiling individual behind reflective sunglasses, and maybe sitting at a donut shop. The popularity of Jepsen’s song, combined with the “Connect to the Berwyn Police Department” theme, provided a great way to reach out to the community and see police officers in a different and enjoyable light. The most important message we wanted to send was for people to feel comfortable and not to be afraid of approaching the men and women who wear police uniforms.
To our pleasant surprise, the video turned out to be a tremendous success after being released at the end of November. The day after release, the video was recognized on WGN News, and also Fox News Chicago as the hottest trending video in the Chicagoland area, and being reported as “It’s a Hit.” To date, the YouTube video has been viewed by almost 23,000 people. With our goal aimed at connecting with our school students and the community, SRO Stillo has related that the students and school staff really love the video and she has received nothing but positive feedback. According to Stillo, “the kids especially love the segment with our K-9 Ares chasing a person and when all of the officers and personnel of the department are showing off their dance moves.”
The purpose of putting the video “Connect with the Berwyn Police” was to reach out to our community – and to date it has been a tremendous success thanks to the fabulous efforts of SRO Jen Stillo, and Crime Analyst Wayne Sedore, along with the tremendous staff at the Berwyn Police Department. If you would like to view the video on the Internet, search “Connect with the Berwyn Police Department” and that will take you to the YouTube link.
As always, the Berwyn Police Department is committed to our community and urges citizens to call and contact us immediately to report any type of criminal or suspicious activity. The public can reach out to us anytime at our police department website or through our social media pages at www.berwynpd.com, at Facebook.com/BerwynPD or on Twitter @berwynpolice.
Jim Ritz is chief of police in the city of Berwyn