We spoke with Tony Raimondo, who is the Deputy Chief of Police in a city in central Florida. He helped his department become the first agency in Florida to use Evertel, and through the years they have found it to be beneficial.
During the pandemic, they have been using Evertel to replace in-person briefings and to centralize messaging around the department.
Catch the highlights in bold or read the full interview below.
Interview with Deputy Chief of Police Tony Raimondo
Jeff Halstead: The police profession has been in the headlines for months. What do you see as the greatest challenge in the next 1–2 years for your employees and the profession?
Chief Raimondo: I think the biggest challenge is going to be to continue to build on the foundation that we have been working on now at our police department for 8 or 9 years to try to re-establish a strong community connection and earn public legitimacy and trust.
While there has been some turmoil, our community has managed to avoid some of that, and we think the strength of relationships and the way we communicate is part of that.
Jeff: When you and other leaders internally look at these challenges, can you describe how you use Evertel to address these plans?
Chief Raimondo: One thing we have learned having managed a crisis previously is that you have got to be ahead of your own messaging. You cannot allow people to craft the narrative. While we do a pretty good job of putting our message out there. It’s always being refined.
We’ve had everything in Florida from the Black Lives Matter protests to the COVID-19 anti-mask movement. One of the things we are able to do with the Evertel platform is communicate our message internally to our employees who are actually out on post that have their devices with them so that when our message changes, they know how it has transformed. There’s no catchup, they don’t have to go log into something, they don’t have to wait for a sergeant to come tell them. They have a device on them to know what type of messaging we are having with both our internal and our external customers.
Jeff: Is there a message you would give to your peers regarding this difficult time? How are you handling these challenges?
Chief Raimondo: The hallmark of our success locally has been that we have not been the recipient of any civil unrest. We have walked hand in hand with our communities and prevented that. And I think we did that by capitalizing on strength of relationships in the community and continuing to build. It’s an organizational and cultural thing that has made us successful.
We have just always seen ourselves as the facilitators of free speech. We never drew a line in the sand with our community. If there was a protest to be had—whether it was on police brutality or some other issue—we were always at the front of that march, marching with those people who had a message, as long as it wasn’t contrary to our values.
As a law enforcement organization, we are immediately prepared to act, prevent violence, protect lives, preserve order, and protect property. But it’s never come to that because we never stood in the way of free speech here. In almost every instance it has worked to our benefit.
Jeff: How your police department using Evertel daily?
Chief Raimondo: One of my city’s strategic goals is the utilization of technology. We are always looking for new ways to embrace technology. Communication is of course a big component of that. And I’ll be honest with you—when I initally was proposed that we get another way to get connected as an organization I thought, well how many ways can we have, how much redundancy do we need? But since then what I have learned is that my thinking was limited. I would encourage leaders to think outside the box.
The ways we use Evertel daily:
1. Each workgroup has its own independent messaging system. As things come downrange from higher authority, we can see that these messages are being disseminated. There’s that old drill about how you put out information and it goes from one person to the next person and by the time you get to the end of that line the message is transformed. What we see with Evertel is a unified messaging platform. We know that the message has been transmitted equally to all facets of the organization. That’s important.
2. We’ve used Evertel to mitigate some of our overtime expenses. Frankly, I’ve been able to minimize the necessity that I’m at work. For example, I was old school. When something happened and a message from the chief needed communicating, I was in the habit of going to probably 8 or 9 different briefings over the course of at least a few days. That turns into long 16 hour days for me, and you can’t always be sure that the exact same message is being transferred and received the same way. I adopted the practice of using Evertel to, when appropriate, do these little snippets of video that my PIO would work with me to edit and cultivate, and then we put those out to the organization. So it’s a better use of time, we understand the message is unified, and everybody is getting it.
3. We also use it to immediately disseminate information into the field. Young police officers today have a solid grasp on the utilization of technology, so what they are likely to do is if they are out on a missing person report, they’ll grab a picture off the mantle, snap a picture of that, and send it out to the workforce very quickly so we know who we are looking for.
With COVID-19, we minimized the number of formal briefings we do. This is a way we can put 20 officers in cars spread out with social distancing and they all get the same messaging at the same time.
Jeff: What are some success stories you have from using Evertel?
Chief Raimondo: From my perspective, the biggest success story from using this particular platform has been decentralized messaging while maintaining a unified message. There is no substitute for that.
Thank you to Chief Raimondo for taking time to talk with us!