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.
In other words, he is a publicist hired to fix an ever growing image issue, not an information officer. Waste of money.
New Sheriff looking for transparency by placing another layer of bureaucracy between he and the public, the very thing I tried to avoid by making sure the media always talked with the person most directly in control of the issue. Don’t believe this is the “positive change for all the people” he ran on.
Just one more thing for the new PIO, It’s Sheriffs Office, not Sheriff Dept. A Sheriff is elected, thus no department under anyone but the people who elected him, thus an office. It’s on the badge, the shoulder patch and letterhead if you get confused.
So I’m just curious, is anyone not going to check the Sheriff or this new PIO on his qualifications? I’m just a simple person, but a quick check of the ol’ interwebs shows that this new PIO has no Facebook page. This new PIO has no Instagram page. This new PIO has (2) Twitter pages, one since January of 2014 and one since August 2014 and he has a total of ZERO tweets, and all of ONE follower. There’s not wonder why he’s begging the local media to send him their contacts, he as none.
This new PIO with his “10 years of media and production” experience yet he has ZERO social media footprint. What makes this county new employee worth $70,000/year? Is his salary consistent with someone who could merely go to “godaddy.com” and make a website for the current Sheriff? What makes this new employee who’s prior jobs according to the News & Record consist of former “bar tender in New York, and owner of an import company” worth his current salary. Lets not forget he has ZERO law enforcement knowledge so how will he correctly brief the public on law enforcement maters?
I wonder when and if the County Commissioners will ever get involved in what’s going on at the Sheriff’s Office?
His knowledge of law enforcement is equal to the Sheriff’s then…I think most sheriff’s offices around this area DO have a PIO, I think they are more or less relegated to menial duties like social media and such. Sam Page, Terry Johnson, and Bobby Kimbrough all speak directly to the press as far as I know…Maybe because they know what they’re talking about. Rogers hasn’t got a clue about the agency and has hired a white-collar to sugar-coat abysmal employee moral and a staggering vacancy rate. Soon he will be doing the same with the crime rate and other areas…
This is a person hired to put lipstick on a pig and call it a Queen! This Sheriff doesn’t have a clue on how to run this office! Now he’s wasting taxpayers money in an attempt to camouflage his ignorance! It simple! If you have to pay for someone to speak to the public to paint a face on this mess, that generally means you’ve got a mess! What this “public information officer” is already being deceitful about is his comment about the office currently filling vacant positions; sir, last I checked, you had only one applicant applying for the many sworn vacant slots. No one in their right mind wants to work under this inept sheriff! Most of the great officers their are looking for a way out! This Sheriff needs to go back to doing what he was doing…. mopping floors! Sadly, he wasn’t even good at that!