SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — With the relationships between law enforcement and some communities strained, some Bay Area officers are turning to social media to try and put their officers in a friendlier light.
When polled, more than half the country says it feels like there is a war against police officers in the country.
While those agencies are fighting back against a negative public opinion, they aren’t winning over everyone.
The short videos being posted on Facebook and elsewhere are part of high-quality, thought out campaigns that local law enforcement hope humanizes the people behind the badge. The clips are being rolled out in a time where confidence in police is at a 22-year national low.
“I’m just doing whatever I can to reverse the cycle and get everything moving in a positive direction,” a San Francisco police officer says in one of the clips.
San Francisco Police launched its ‘We are SFPD’ campaign in August. It’s a series of short videos highlighting individual officers’ stories, most of them minorities.
Last Wednesday, California Highway patrol launched their own campaign that has a very similar tone.
With officer-involved shootings regularly make headlines, a positive public-relations campaign may be timely, but is it effective?
Yayne Abeba is a community activist and spokesperson for the Frisco 5, a group that is arguably the biggest critic of police in San Francisco.
“I just think a campaign is a waste of time if you’re not going to change policy and the way you interact with the community,” said Abeba.
She says the intention may good, but fancy videos aren’t the way to change public opinion.
“I appreciate giving the human side of these law enforcement officers,” said Abeba. “But when they’re not interacting properly with the community, when they are using their position of authority to oppress people who are more disenfranchised than they are, that’s what really needs to be addressed and that’s what we need to work on.”
KPIX 5 asked a couple of local law enforcement agencies exactly how much money is being spent on the campaigns. CHP officials said most of their videos were made in house. SFPD has not returned any calls regarding the campaign.