One of the stated goals of new Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers is for the department be more open and transparent with the community – and, to that end, the department has hired a new public information officer (PIO).
Brand new Guilford County Sheriff’s Department PIO Max Benbassat said he’s very excited about the opportunity to help the sheriff get his message out to the people, and he added that, in his first days on the job, he’s been contacting local media outlets in an attempt to open up the lines of communication.
The new PIO has a strong background in website creation and site management, so citizens should look for more active social media streams from the department. Benbassat is handling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the department. (There’s no word yet about a MySpace site.)
Benbassat said there’s a lot to do in the new job.
“I’m still getting settled in,” he said.
Benbassat, 37, has done everything from run a Spanish-language news publication in Portland, Oregon to work in advertising in New York and other places. Born in Chicago, he went to high school in Burlington, NC before graduating Loyola University Chicago with a degree in International Studies.
He said he’s really glad to be working with the new sheriff.
“I’ve known him for years,” he said. “I did his website during the campaign.”
Benbassat said the department under Rogers feels like a team.
“The sheriff is very focused,” he said. “He works hard; he works long hours and he’s a team player. He’s a leader, but he’s also a co-worker.”
According to Benbassat, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department had a PIO position under previous Sheriff BJ Barnes though the job was different in nature.
As most members of the local media know, Barnes handled most media relations himself.
One thing Benbassat hopes to do going forward, he said, is clear up some of the misconceptions he’s seen in various media reports regarding Rogers and the department. He said, for instance, that some local media reports have generated excessive concerns over vacancies in the Sheriff’s Department, but the department is working to fill those positions and is gradually doing so.
“One of my main tasks will be to work with media and make sure we have open lines of communication,” he said.
Benbassat said he’s always been interested in law enforcement and some of that interest comes from the fact that his mother, Esther, had a job teaching Spanish to deputies in the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department.
His father, who’s from Argentina, began working in textiles and is now a plant manager. His mother is also from Argentina.
Benbassat said he believes in the mission that Rogers is undertaking and therefore he’s very pleased to come on board and help get the word out to the community.
“It’s very important that people feel like we’re here to help,” he said.
He will now be the point man for communication with local television and print media. Some of his duties include responding to media inquiries and interview requests, handling public information requests – in coordination with the Sheriff’s Department attorney – and providing updates to the website and managing social media accounts. He will also help the department put on special public events.