Dixon Police Department hopes to humanize the badge through officer-led podcast

Officer Matt Coffey and Sgt. Ryan West started a podcast as a way to connect with the community.

Dixon Police Department, Officer Matt Coffey and Sergeant Lincoln Sharp, discuss how they've used social media to connect with the community in podcast led by Coffey and Sergeant Ryan West.

DIXON – The Dixon Police Department is taking a creative approach to connect with community members through its podcast, led by officer Matt Coffey and Sgt. Ryan West, as they give listeners a glimpse inside the station.

The podcast is a “more broad” way to provide information to the public and, in recent years, it’s become a popular avenue that people are choosing to get their information, Coffey said in an interview with Shaw Local.

In each episode, Coffey and West interview different officers within the Dixon department, discuss events coming up in the department and the community, and answer questions or discuss topics they often get asked about. They’ve talked about things such as the department’s Police Explorers’ post and wellness in the workplace, and they have a segment where they share stories of their most memorable calls.

They came up with the idea in December and uploaded their first episode Jan. 16.

Back then, Coffey and West were on the same patrol shift together and worked nights. During their shift, it would get quiet from 2 to 4 a.m. During that downtime, they’d set up their microphones and headphones in the break room and begin recording. When a call would come in, they’d leave to answer it and continue recording when they got back, Coffey said.

West was promoted to sergeant May 18, and the two no longer are on the same shift. So they’re trying to figure out the best time to record the podcast.

They use “a cheap microphone and headphone setup,” and West edits the recordings using a free app on his phone. In the future, they hope to add a video component, he said.

It’s all about “humanizing the badge.” When police officers are approaching people or situations, they have all their gear on, and most people don’t see beyond that. They just see a cop instead of “seeing us as humans who have a family, kids and bills to pay,” Coffey said.

In the second episode, “Sgt. Sharp Discusses Social Media,” uploaded Feb. 3, Coffey and West talked with Sgt. Lincoln Sharp about the department’s efforts to connect with community members through social media platforms. Sharp talked about how he expanded the department’s reach outside of Facebook by creating accounts on Instagram and Twitter. He discussed how they began adding comedic elements to the platforms along with their standard announcements.

In one post, on Dec. 18, Sharp uploaded a picture of a squad car with a car seat set up in the driver’s seat. The caption read, “it’s [Officer] Grady’s first day of field training, so we got the squad car all ready for him!”

In the fourth episode, uploaded March 18, Coffey and West had officer Evan Grady on the podcast to talk about his experience in the department’s field training program since joining the department in December. Through the podcast, listeners got to hear about Grady’s work experience before joining the department, how the department’s field training program works, and what Grady’s experience has been so far at the department.

Dixon Police Department, Officer Evan Grady, discusses field training program in the departments podcast with Officer Matt Coffey and Sergeant Ryan West.

The podcast allows the community to get to know the people inside the Dixon PD in a more personal way. It makes them “feel more comfortable with us” and more comfortable “calling us” or “coming to us with their problems,” Coffey said.

The most recent episode, “Animal Calls with Officer Dempsey,” uploaded April 12, got 301 total views on YouTube as of Friday, May 24, “which in the podcast world doesn’t seem like a lot.”

In Dixon, “if you were speaking in a room of [301] people, that’s a lot,” he said.

To listen, visit the Dixon Police Department’s YouTube page or Dixon Police on Spotify.

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Payton Felix

Payton Felix

Payton Felix reports on local news in the Sauk Valley for the Shaw Local News Network. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2023.