Service Beyond the Badge


By Katherine Grey

There’s a buzz following Joe Silva.

It’s constant.

Phone calls and text messages roll in, one after another: each asking for a piece of information, imploring a moment of his undivided attention.

As the Stockton Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Silva’s time is in constant negotiation to fit the growing demands of transparency from the media — but also a more-connected, informed community that relies on social sites for information.

He works to stay ahead of public demands for streamlined information through professional relationships developed over his tenure in the position.

“Over the last three years we have been very busy here in the City of Stockton. Whether it’s the bankruptcy coming out of bankruptcy, some of the high crime years with the record murder rates, last year the July 16 bank robbery with the hostage taking,” Silva said.

Those incidents, he said, have put him “to the test.”

A typical morning for Silva is never pre-planned.

Rather, it’s more of an on-the-go mission that takes him from one part of the city to the next.

On a morning in early July, Silva was on the job the morning after a K9 officer died due to heat-related causes. The matter is still under investigation.

In less than two hours, Silva answered questions for local broadcast television and radio outlets.

“It goes to answering your telephone, being available for the news media, understanding that they’re not the enemy they have a job to do and they have bosses that are telling them these are the stories you have to do today and make sure they get done,” he said.



FOX40 interviews Officer Silva outside of the Market St. Police Department regarding the heat related death of K9 Nitro.
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Officer Silva finishes up a phone interview with Capitol City Radio regarding the heat related death of K9 Nitro.
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Officer Silva is on his third interview within a half hour all regarding the heat related death of K9 officer Nitro.
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Officer Silva finishes his media sprint with KCRA3 reporter Melinda Meza. Silva offered details into the heat related death of K9 officer Nitro.
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As he walks out of the Market Street police department building, there’s barely recognizable lent from his deep-blue blazer. Silva grabs his phone and walks towards the parking lot. He begins a marathon of media interviews.

He greets the crew from Fox 40, politely answering questions and taking a moment to casually talk after the interview is done. It’s more than just a give and take of information, he said. It’s about building professional relationships.

For sixteen years, Silva moved through the ranks of the department, serving most recently as a robbery homicide detective.

“Over my 19-year career I’ve worked numerous assignments. I started off like every officer does in patrol and then I moved over to become a school resource officer at Stagg High School. After I was done with that assignment, I was transferred over to investigations where I began to work in our family crimes division. Investigating sexual assaults, domestic violence, missing persons. And then I moved up to robbery homicide. Where I was there for seven years. It was while I was a homicide detective when Chief Jones was transitioning to become the chief is when he asked me to become his Public Information Officer,” he said.

This role wasn’t an easy move over for Silva, he said.

As a homicide detective it’s a lot of “yes” and “no” answers to most of the questions Silva was asked.

“I learned pretty quick that you can’t do that with the news media because you have to elaborate with what was happening,” he said.

In this role, the media and community require more elaboration.

An invaluable tool to foster the flow of information has been use of social media by the department.

Pulling the community together by the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and  a mobile app, the department has made policing in the City of Stockton a conversation.

Silva said social media is one of his biggest assignments.

Transparency is a big issue facing the law enforcement community today.

Across the United States, there has been public outcry for more information regarding officials conduct their jobs.

This past April in Baltimore, Maryland, Freddie Gray was taken into custody and was later found to have been injured during arrest. He later died from injuries sustained in custody.

The outrage that followed the incident left the country on edge, but it was not the first incident that precipitated the requests for transparency.

Last year Michael Brown was allegedly gunned down by police in Ferguson, Missouri and killed in the middle of a street. Brown was suspected of robbery.

Outrage for both of these incidents moved across social media.

In response, police departments nationwide are joining social conversations, balancing due process with the public’s need – and now growing desire – to know while also answering to the press.

“I think we have a mutual respect. He understands the public’s right and need to know certain things. He is generally pretty cooperative with myself and other members of the media,” said Jason Anderson, Crimes and Public Safety reporter for The Record.

Anderson worked with Silva for the past two years covering the crimes beat for Stockton’s newspaper.

“He is very responsive and accessible and always willing to help us with our various requests for information,” he said. “He is exceptional at his job and he does it very well. He has helped I think, to foster an open and transparent environment within the Stockton Police Department.”

In a support role in the Public Information Office, Community Service Officer Rosie Calderon fills in the missing links that allow for the department to be continually connected.

Calderon brings diversity of experience and self to the table. She’s bilingual, which brings a sense of comfort to the Hispanic community she works with.

Calderon’s favorite part of her job is the Stockton community itself. She enjoys being available to the Hispanic community and is often called upon as a trusted source for information to those who are only Spanish speakers.

“I haven’t had a bad moment but plenty of stressful moments. I think the good moments I have had are the interaction with the public, the community, with the kids at the schools, with some of the spanish speaking parents,” she said.


On scene of a March Lane and West lane accident where 15 vehicles were involved, one suspect apprehended. Officer Silva met with the media on scene to relay information.
Officer Silva speaks with News 10 while on scene of the March Lane and West Lane accident involving 15 vehicles.
Officer Silva and CSO Calderon share info reagrding the accident on West Lane and March lane
Officer Silva and CSO Calderon speak with a Chaplain of SPD before a press conference regarding an indictment involving a juvenile and two adults.
PIO Joe Silva, Lt. Larry Lane, and Chaplain Jesse, all of SPD, share a moment to talk with one another during a Coffee with the Cops event at Conway Homes.
Officer Silva uses a phone app called Periscope to live stream a promotion ceremony at SPD.
Officer Silva and CSO Calderon stand in front of the Stockton Police Department building on Market Street in Downtown Stockton.
Fox 40 speaks with Officer Silva during an interview regarding a suspect who is being sought in a false impersonation case.
CSO Calderon speaks with a day camper from The Community Center for the Blind & Visually Imparied as they were taken on a tour of the Police Department.
CSO Calderon speaks with Officer Silva inbetween press interviews
Trinkets line the top of Officer Silva's TV in his office. Some commerating all that he has done during his years of service with SPD.
Wall sign in front of Officer Silva's office
Officer Joe Silva speaks with a radio personality regarding the heat related death of a K9 during his shift.
Officer Joe Silva uses a phone app called Periscope to live stream an indictment press conference at the Stockton Courthouse.
CSO Calderon speaks with a parent at a Coffee with the Cops event at Conway homes.
Officer Silva listens while Chief Jones speak with The Record’s crimes reporter about the July 16th, 2014 Bank of the West Robbery.