Police Department Series: Community Engagement

The Redwood City Police Department (RCPD) appreciates the vital need to build and maintain a strong, collaborative relationship with the community they serve, including segments of the community that have remained disconnected from police and City services.

For the last five years the Department has worked diligently to forge this bond through various social media platforms and robust community outreach and engagement programs such as Coffee with the Cops, the Parent Project, Adopt-A-School, Project SAFE, SCAN program, Town Hall meetings, English and Spanish Citizens Police Academy programs, Volunteers in Police Service and the Police Cadet program.

Community participation and volunteerism indicate that these initiatives are working to build confidence and collaboration between the Department and the community. The resulting relationships created by these improvements in policing have created new opportunities to better serve the community.

This blog features a few of the many community engagement programs and efforts made by the RCPD. If you would like to learn about other RCPD community engagement programs, go here.


The RCPD created the Citizens Police Academy program more than a dozen years ago to educate members of the community about the roles and responsibilities of police officers. The academy covers topics similar to those taught to police recruits in a real academy. Classes are taught by veteran officers and other experts. During the years since its inception, both the English and Spanish versions of this program have helped many community members to better understand the role of police officers and the challenges they face each day. The RCPD also offers a Spanish language Citizen’s Academy.


Coffee with the Cops aims to enhance communication between community members and the Police Department. This informal event allows citizens to ask questions, learn about new police programs and efforts and voice concerns. Officers answer questions, distribute crime prevention information, connect citizens with City services, and help citizens connect to the Department’s social media channels. No formal presentation takes place, so citizens are welcome to drop in anytime during the events, which take place throughout the City. These events are adapted to the cultural norms of each community, with specialists on hand to assist with their needs.

The Department has received positive feedback from community members regarding Coffee with the Cops including messages such as:

“Being a lifelong member of Redwood City it is impressive to see how the Coffee with Cops program has strengthened the relationship between our community and the officers who serve us so well.”
“The reason I love Coffee with Cops is because I have had the opportunity to meet several of our officers and get to know the person behind the uniform. Our cops rock!”


No youth-based program can succeed without engaged parents. The Department has pursued a variety of methods to share information with parents about youth programs, gang and drug awareness and parenting curriculum taught by specially trained Department members. Youth specialists are on hand to familiarize parents with available services and immediately pair parents in crisis with the help they need.

Programs such as the nationally acclaimed Parent Project provide detailed parenting courses to parents at no cost. The Department prides itself on maintaining cultural competency while engaging in these efforts. Each event is tailored to the needs and accessibility of each individual community, including courses presented in Spanish.

With the completion of multiple Parent Project course cycles, the Department continues to make every effort to keep pace with the increasing public demand for this important parenting resource.


The RCPD has been continuously recognized for their efforts and successes in the area of community engagement.

In September 2012, the Department was internationally recognized for its outstanding work using social media and video chat when it was given the ConnectedCOPS: Excellence at a Small Agency Award.

The Department’s video chat program has received national media attention. The program prompted IDG’s Computerworld to select Police Chief JR Gamez as a 2013 Premier 100 IT Leaders of America honoree, which acknowledges individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through exceptional technology leadership and innovative approaches to business challenges.

The Department received this award again in 2014 for its use of Pinterest to reunite victims with their recovered stolen property and for the Department’s creation of a Spanish language Facebook Page — the first in the nation of its kind.

In 2013, the Department won the California Peace Officers’ Association’s Award of Distinction. This prestigious award is presented each year to a selected law enforcement agency for outstanding accomplishments and ongoing operational activities that perform great service to their communities.

Two business-oriented organizations have also taken notice of the Department’s success. In 2013, the Department received the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet Award for its effective use of technology. In 2014, the Department received the Association of Bay Area Governments’ Growing Smarter Together Award for its effective use of communications vehicles.


Enjoy this blog and want to know more? Check out our previous posts in this series below.

To learn more about the Redwood City Police Department go here. If you would like to stay connected with the RCPD, follow them on social media.

You can also read the RCPD 2015 Organizational Brief here.

Read about the Redwood City Police Department’s leadership, values, and training here.

Read about the Department’s training programs here.