Building Trust and Legitimacy

San Mateo Police Department trains all of our officers on the value of procedural justice. Our police officers understand the expectation that every contact must begin with fairness and equity, and all of our contacts must be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. We train our officers to understand the value of five minutes at the end of a contact to answer questions and explain our actions for understanding.

As a highly proactive police department, our officers know their professionalism and procedural justice practices are required in every situation they encounter. Officers are reminded daily that our community’s eyes are on them, and that their community expects top professionalism from the department. Supervisors and managers are regularly reminded of the national narrative – the fact that police are highly scrutinized based on highly publicized and sometimes very negative contacts between the police and the public. Our leadership team regularly shares these incidents with our officers, and our officers themselves follow these incidents – they are openly discussed in briefings to reinforce our commitment to professionalism. Although action by the police viewed negatively by the public may not be frequent in this jurisdiction, San Mateo Police Department personnel know the impacts of these events effects everyone. Our officers are prepared to answer questions from the public about police legitimacy and accountability, and when it is our agency involved, we are transparent and open about self-accountability.

Recruiting a Diverse Workforce

The San Mateo Police Department’s Recruitment Unit recognizes the importance of developing a workforce that is reflective of the community we serve, and we represent the language and culture of San Mateo’s diverse neighborhoods. We are always striving for an accurate representation and in addition to seeking the most qualified candidates to serve the city, we meet regularly with various cultural groups, faith-based organizations, and stakeholder groups to maintain an open dialogue, ensure a welcoming environment, and talk about new recruitment methods.

We continue to seek new and innovative ways to recruit, retain, and groom the very best and brightest representatives to preserve peace and order in our city. We look for candidates who have a high level of dedication and who embody our motto Protect with Honor | Serve with Pride.

To learn more about joining the San Mateo Police Department, please visit our recruitment page.

Workforce diversity over time.
Demographics of the police department compared to nation and local ethnicity composition.

Partnership with Our Community

The San Mateo Police Department shares a deep bond with our community. With over 300 neighborhood watch blocks citywide, San Mateo has one of the most robust programs in the county. Our neighborhood watch board is comprised of community leaders who regularly meet directly with our community relations officer to discuss trends and concerns. 

The San Mateo Police Department has expanded its community partnerships and reach through various messaging and social media platforms. Thousands of subscribers are directly connected for public safety messaging through Nextdoor and Nixle, and tens of thousands of others receive information directly from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

The San Mateo Police Department has established a leading-edge public messaging and social media program with a reputation for swift, transparent messages that informs the community and interacts with the public to help us stop, solve, and prevent crime. This program is the glue in a relationship of trust with our community. Residents of San Mateo know they can turn to the San Mateo Police Department first in a crisis for critical information.  

Our social media platforms have also been helpful in connecting concerned community members with police officers to report crimes, suspicious activity, and quality of life issues. We’ve found that our virtual and personal connections are the secret ingredient to true collaboration in keeping San Mateo safe.

We pride ourselves on being available to our community in both formal and informal ways. By taking both approaches, we allow ourselves to be relatable in casual, non-enforcement settings where actual community engagement can occur, as well as in more structured, presentation style meetings where more focused discussions take place. Regardless of the forum, we use both opportunities to educate and inform our public.

Impacting Youth Positively 

Over the past several years, the San Mateo Police Department has developed its Youth Services Unit (YSU) into an evidence based, nationally recognized, exemplary model within the County of San Mateo. The YSU is comprised of a detective sergeant, a detective assigned to juvenile crimes, three school resource officers (SROs), in-house youth counselors, a dedicated County juvenile probation officer, and our award-winning Police Activities League nonprofit. 

The SROs are part of an innovative three-way partnership between the San Mateo-Foster City School District, the San Mateo Unified High School District, and the San Mateo Police Department. Each assigned one of the public high schools and their feeder middle schools, SROs teach Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT), a federally sponsored, evidence-based 13-session curriculum, to all public school sixth graders in San Mateo, with discussions of opening GREAT to private schools.  

As a result, discipline issues and crimes are down in all of our public schools, and at-risk youth are quickly identified for our diversion program and social services. This is a proven top of the line prevention and early intervention program that helps to build bonds with the San Mateo Community of the future.

Learn more about our youth programs.