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Flagler Sheriff’s Kershaw and Sabatini Win National Award For Bridging Gap Between Cops and Citizens

| October 10, 2018

Shannon Sabatini, left, and Brittany Kershaw. (FCSO)

Shannon Sabatini, left, and Brittany Kershaw. (FCSO)

The Flagler County Sheriff’s latest “Behind the Badge” video features rail-thin rookie Robert Lentino. “I’ve been with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office for about–eight months now?” he asks himself. “Eight or nine months. Always wanted to be a cop. I have family members that are in law enforcement, so I chose Flagler County because I grew up here, lived here for like, 20 years, kinda know the area pretty well, so kinda figured, why not represent the whole town.”

“Is this your first time working as a deputy,” Shannon Sabatini, née Martin, asks him from behind the camera.

“This is. Used to work at Publix before this,” he says.

Lentino suddenly is behind a graphically imposed and ringing Publix cash register. Sabatini asks him about his favorite sub.  Lentino thinks a moment. “Chicken-tender sub’s pretty good, can’t complain,” the cop says. A sub appears like one of those odd objects in space in the original Star Trek, flying slowly toward the deputy. An invisible crowd cheers.

“Where are some places you’d like to visit?”

“I’m Italian, so I’d love to go to Italy,  in fact that would be pretty awesome,” Lentino says. No special effects there. Maybe the gum Lentino is chewing is an Italian import.

So it goes, Lentino talking about the best advice he can give, the laughter he likes to bring to the job and his colleagues, and of course Sabatini fading out the brief video interview with a clip from Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” (ASCAP won’t mind.)

For video series like that, and like the sheriff’s “Fugitive Friday Bingo”–featuring Sheriff Rick Staly and Cpl.  Scott Wetherhold as his  McMahon–and the agency’s highway safety videos, Sabatini and once-and-future colleague Brittany Kershaw of the sheriff’s Public Affairs Office just won the national County Government-to-Citizen Experience award from the Center for Digital Government.

The center’s annual awards include numerous categories. The Government-to-Citizen Experience is one of the awards, recognizing the creative bridges agencies build through digital media between their ranks and the communities they serve, and the means they use to tell their stories or convey public service campaigns. The awards went not just to law enforcement agencies, but to any government agency with similar programs, so the competition was not slight. Kershaw and Sabatini were honored alongside agencies from Colorado, New York, Michigan and Orange County, Fla.

Staly put a premium on communications with residents when he took office, looking to more directly and often humorously connect with residents–or have his ranks connect with residents–in ways to demystify what has traditionally been a more opaque and tight-jawed agency, at least when seen from the outside. The Center for Digital Government specifically highlighted the trio of video features, one of which was a driver’s awareness campaign that had traffic deputies in costume.

“This national recognition for our Public Affairs Team is well deserved. I am proud of the work they do to engage the community and sharing the hard work of the Sheriff’s Office with our community in creative ways,” Staly said.

Sabatini flew to Austin to accept the award on Sept. 28. Kershaw might have gone with her but she was in brief exile at the time–she left the agency for a few weeks to work in another company in town, then returned by acclamation: today was her first day back–so Sabatini attended the banquet on behalf of the agency. The pair is also responsible for writing press releases, dealing with media, and feeding the agency’s increasingly ravenous social media accounts.

The Government Experience Awards, according to one of those releases, recognize the achievements and best practices of states, cities and counties that have used the internet and social media enhance the experience of government and interaction with citizens to deliver community services. The Center for Digital Government is headquartered in Folsom, Calif. The Center is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

It isn’t yet clear whether the “Behind the Badge” rules will be bent a little in coming weeks to allow Kershaw to come clean and explain on camera her brief exile which, according to several senior officials within the agency and some outside it, provoked considerable anxiety at the agency and unusual distress among some reporters.

The sheriff’s office’s videos post at the agency’s Facebook page.

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2 Responses for “Flagler Sheriff’s Kershaw and Sabatini Win National Award For Bridging Gap Between Cops and Citizens”

  1. palmcoaster says:

    I really can say that our sheriff crew is very receptive and responsive to the residents emergency and non emergency calls and makes us feel protected and smile and wave back when we see our sheriff officers driving by patrolling our community! Thanks to the hard work of 2 years, the sheriff has help us to evict a drug and prostitution dealer from our neighborhood that even tried to recruit our good teens as a “mules”. In these times of drug epidemic nation wide that given the poisoned minds drags alone the us of prostitution among our families homes we have to be confident to call and have our law enforcement close in our side!
    My deepest appreciation to all the courteous professional dispatchers and caring (except very few) that answer our frantic calls and also the kind and professional officers that come in our aid! They risk their lives day in and day out to to preserve ours. At least in Flagler county I do not need to own a gun as I believe is in better hands of law enforcement to protect me.

  2. Really says:

    Nice job Ladies

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