A series of videos debuting this week will give people an inside look at the Watertown Police Department, and allow them to get to know some of the officers and others working for the WPD.
Behind the Badge, which will be available on the Watertown Police social media accounts, has been more than a year in the making, said Dan McCarthy, who co-produced the series with Mark Chambers.
McCarthy and his production team spoke with more than 20 officers, and conducted more than 30 interviews, including civilian employees, McCarthy said. The 10 episodes will be about 7 to 10 minutes long, and each has two features along with a mini feature.
“Some of the features include an in depth look at the dispatch for police and fire, the canine, the (Student Resource Officer), we go out on the road with Don Pham and the motorcycle unit” McCarthy said. “We had the Chief do a complete tour of the station and the tour was so good we broke it up into three parts so people can really take their time and get a good look at it.”
Crews began shooting the features about six months ago, McCarthy said, but the idea was born about a year ago, Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn said. He said the idea came from one of the Town Council’s Public Safety Committee meetings when Lawn mentioned that residents can get to know more about how the WPD operates by taking part in the Citizens’ Police Academy. One of the attendees pointed out that not everyone can be in the Citizens’ Academy.
“If you can’t get to the Citizens’ Police Academy, that is what planted the seed in my head to do these videos (for residents) to get to know the officers,” Lawn said.
McCarthy said the ultimate goal is to humanize the Police Department and give an inside look at what goes on at the Police Department and how the WPD operates.
“A lot of these features we knew from our very first meeting what the subjects would be, but along the way you start putting them together and you discover a subject,” McCarthy said. “Case in point, Frank Forde and the Meat Spot.”
Forde, an officer who moved to Watertown from Galway, Ireland, about seven years ago, is the subject of one of the first episodes of Behind the Badge.
In the video, Forde explained how he knows so many people around town from his previous job, working at the Meat Spot in Watertown Square..
“You are walking down the street and everyone is waving to you,” Forde said. “Even some of the officers say, ‘How do you know so many people? You aren’t even from here. I guess it’s the friendly Irish smile I have.”
Behind the Badge followed Officer Kerry Kelley around Watertown High School, where she has been the student resource officer (SRO) for several years. The filmmakers not only spoke with Kelley, but also with WHS Principal Joel Giacobozzi, who described Kelley’s role as not only a police officer but also a teacher.
In another piece, Officer Don Pham wore a GoPro to show what it is like to be a motorcycle officer.
“It’s definitely a little bit of an adrenaline rush,” Pham said in the video. “When we get what we call a hot call — getting to the scene as quickly as possible — it’s a little bit scary because when we are pushing intersections some people don’t even see a police car. But once we hit the open road, full throttle, it feels good.”
Pham, who speaks Vietnamese, said that a lot of the officers speak more than one language, which helps officers communicate with people and make them feel more comfortable dealing with the Watertown Police.
Other episodes feature Russell Guarino, the director of vehicle maintenance for the WPD, who shows what it takes to keep the department vehicles running, McCarthy said, there is a feature on the women of the Watertown Police, a feature on the jail diversion program, a piece about the Cops & Kids program, and one on the Whooley Foundation, which provides gifts to kids who might not get one at Christmas.
The filmmakers also spent a lot of time with Andrew Civetti and his canine partner, Kato.
“All the dog lovers out there will love to hear little tidbits about canine life,” McCarthy said.
One thing McCarthy learned was that Civetti has a special police vehicle in which, if the temperature in the cruiser ever hits a certain point, the fans and the air conditioning will go on automatically to keep the dog cool and safe.
The final touches have been put on the videos, and Lawn said he has been impressed.
“This has far exceeded my expectations of what these videos could do for us,” Lawn said. “I think at the end of the day it is the men and the women of this Police Department that makes it such a great Police Department. And I think through these videos you are going to see that side of that: you are going to see they are mothers and fathers, and care for this community, and are compassionate.”
Capt. Thomas Rocca said he hopes it might inspire others to join the WPD.
“This is a welcoming way for people to see the Police Department and encourage people to want to join the Police Department,” Rocca said. “There has been a serious lack of people who have come forward who want to go through civil services, and we hope this is a diverse outreach to them as well.”
Officers also talk about how they decided to join the Police Department, and stay there.
“What you will see as a common theme here is they love working here,” Lawn said. “I think you will see that throughout the interviews.”
McCarthy, who grew up in Watertown, has a long background in video and other productions. He was the first person to broadcast live on Watertown Cable Access in 1982, worked as the DJ for the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics for 13 years, as well as organizing the entertainment at the Faire on the Square. He was able to gather some very experienced people to work on Behind the Badge.
Chambers, the co-producer and chief editor, was the director of the video board for the Boston Bruins for 13 years, and has also worked on shows for NESN. The narrator, Andy Taylor, is also the voice of the U.S. Open tennis tournament as the PA announcer, and has worked on programs such as NESN’s Boston University hockey series BU Terriers Unleashed.
“The timing on all this was perfect. During COVID all the sports shut down so all the best editors and cameramen all of the sudden are available to us to work on this,” McCarthy said. “Our graphic guy is the same guy who does the graphics at the TD Garden. It’s a network I have created and I pulled the best.”