Words by: Jennifer Casey
Brad Uptmore, Southlake Police Department’s Public Information Officer, is probably one of the most recognized names in the City after the Mayor. Brought onto the Southlake scene in 2016, he brings humor and levity in his social media posts that have changed how we see the men and women who wear the badge.
Why do you think humor is effective in your role? Do you think more cities are missing out on this or are we just lucky to have a smaller town that it works better in?
I think you have to have the exact right audience and city for the humor method to work. I don’t think we could be as successful as we’ve been if I worked in social media for a city like Dallas or Fort Worth. They have so much more crime and terrible things happen, that you can’t walk that line properly. You can’t put out something goofy and chance that five minutes later you have to post about a traffic fatality. Southlake is the right size, the fair citizens are intelligent, and all of the pieces were in place a few years ago to successfully go this route.
What kind of work did you do prior with the city? And how did you get your current role?
I was a Dallas Police Officer for 10 years prior to coming to Southlake and I think that helps my role here. I’ve answered almost every possible 911 call, conducted hundreds of interviews, and know how to talk to people. When I applied for Southlake, the Chief stated she saw some of my background was in writing and film. A few years later, the Chiefs recognized the need for a more vocal social media and asked if I could helm it. Our mission was simply to humanize the badge and to provide transparency to our residents. Our “groundbreaking” idea was to talk to the citizens like human beings, and not like robots that some of the other police departments do. Why say “the suspect entered the establishment and produced a handgun and aimed it at the victim” when I could say “the bad guy walked in 7-11 and whipped out a gun?” What better way to humanize the badge than to talk like a human?
Are Randoll Mill’s speed limit signs still the most “ignored” or is there a “new” speeding zone?
When I worked patrol in Southlake, I was District 2, which was a chunk of Randol Mill. There would be days where I didn’t see a car going under 60mph when the speed limit was 30mph. It was so dangerous and no one really seemed aware of it, so that’s why I started out joking about Randol Mill when I first started as the PIO. One thing we’ve done right is make ourselves available to the public, so we get constant emails requesting more patrol, traffic enforcement, and more. I think that Dove Road has gotten the most complaints recently, so I know we’re running some studies and trying to give that road a little extra love since there are so many bikers and pedestrians along the road.
What do you think is the best part of your job?
Towards the end of my career in Dallas, I found community policing to be the most satisfying. When you’re a rookie, you want the nonstop action and to answer as many calls as possible. As I got older, I found that spending more time on calls (when allowed) made more of a difference. By solving a problem instead of band-aiding a call, you get less problems from that location. So here in Southlake, the entire department is more community policed. I love the fact that our officers take the time on their calls to fix problems and really work with the victims. That makes such a difference. So when I get the “atta boy” emails and letters about our officers, it just brightens our days. To think that in this busy, crazy world, that someone took the time out to sit down and write a letter about how professional or how helpful one of our officers was, is just mind-blowing and I love it.
What makes Southlake a great city in your opinion?
There’s so much. It’s gorgeous, it’s well thought out, the parks are stunning, and everything is pristine. It’ll sound like I’m sucking up, but I think one of the main reasons it’s so great is the leadership in the city government. I was floored when I came here and the Mayor and City Manager knew my name, my kid’s names, and stuff like that. They remember that stuff over the years. One time early on, I got a handwritten thank you note from the City Manager. Like who does that? It seems like such a little action, but it had been over 10 years since I had received a handwritten note and it certainly wasn’t from anyone at my previous job. I was speechless and I think that was the moment I knew I had made the right choice to come here.
If you could tell the fair citizens of Southlake anything, what would it be?
Live your days in the city, anywhere, with kindness and love. That’s easier said than done, but try not to let the little stuff bother you and try to act in a way to make your kids proud. So much of today’s world is spiteful banter behind a computer screen, but try to be willing to listen to other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and dreams just as you’d want them to listen to yours.
What are your top 3 social media posts and why? What post received the most “likes”?
I think our first viral post, the “Hey Gurl” BOLO post, is still the one that leads the others at like 37,000 likes/reactions and over four million impressions.
My favorite posts are usually our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons because it really tests the limits of my Photoshop skills and it’s using police and fire together (https://www.facebook.com/SouthlakePublicSafety/photos/pcb.4727503537321598/4727499827321969/). I look forward to doing those every year and making them look more and more realistic as time goes on.
Another favorite post was for Star Wars Day (May the 4th) and it had two officers pulling over my youngest son in a landspeeder we had found. He has this little guilty grin on his face that brings me such joy (https://www.facebook.com/SouthlakePublicSafety/photos/a.200125026726161/2700228473382458/).
Lastly, I always love any video we make but I think I had most fun on our parody of “The Office” where we introduced CID. Sergeant Macheca just captured the cringe and discomfort of Michael Scott perfectly and the whole video had so many little easter eggs in it for fans of the show. I love the intro and I love the graphics and I love everyone’s performance in it. It’s hard to believe these guys aren’t real actors (https://www.facebook.com/SouthlakePublicSafety/videos/1192321181209421).
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Honestly, it’s that I’m much more of an introvert than you might think. Whenever I go to events or banquets to speak or mingle, my Fitbit thinks I’m running a marathon with my heart rate. It’s the same on filming days. Small talk and chit chat are easily some of the most uncomfortable things in the world.
Can you tell me about the award that you won that you and Mayor Hill went to NY to accept?
Of course. You can get most of the run down here: https://mysouthlakenews.com/2019/06/city-of-southlake/city-of-southlake-wins-prsa-silver-anvil-award, but long story short, it was described as an “Oscar for the public relations world.”
Anyone who follows you knows that you have a Mom that tolerates you putting her at the center of many of your personal posts. She obviously loves eating out. Where would she want you to take her to dinner for a special occasion and why?
I last took her out for her birthday to Gloria’s where I spent like $100 for her to eat some guacamole on tortillas. She may have ordered a shrimp cocktail too, but only ate one shrimp and took the rest home. That’s the madness I deal with. So I’d probably say any place that me and my boys want to eat, but checking they have shrimp cocktail on the menu.
“Words cannot express the impact Officer Uptmore has had on the Southlake Police and Fire departments as well as the entire community. He’s brought a level of sophisticated communication that engaged people with humor and wit. He’s a smart, talented and great cop.” – Previous Mayor: Laura Hill