“I’m not a criminal, but if I was running from her and she started singing, I would definitely stop to listen.”
That was just one of 3,200 comments on a video recorded by a fellow Gonzales Police Department officer of Marisol Sanchez adding her voice to a mariachi band at a recent quinceañera here in town. The clip was posted on the GPD's Facebook page, and as of Wednesday, had garnered 44,365 shares and a cool 2.7 million views.
The habit has become common and popular for a department that uses social media to connect with residents. And it hasn't been its first hit. A scroll through their video page shows segments featuring officers hula hooping, singing karaoke in their patrol cars, and performing cheer routines at the high school, with several thousand views attributed to each.
“It's just a good way to connect with the community and allow the community to see a human side of the police officer,” said Police Chief Tim Crow. “We are people like anyone else, we just have a job that's a little different than other jobs. So it's a great way to connect with the community and just show them another side of us and push out information that the community needs to know about.”
Crow started the department's social media pages several years ago and quickly saw the opportunity to add some levity for the small-town force. It's not always a steady stream of feel-good hits, for the officers do have quite a bit of work to tend to other than becoming the next internet star. But when time allows, they are able to project a softer side of the blue line.
“It's one of my favorite songs,” said Sanchez of her spin on Linda Ronstadt's 'Los Laureles.' “That's one that I used to perform when I was younger.”
Sanchez attended Victoria Liberty Academy where she participated in the high school's mariachi group, playing violin and singing. Her mother recently presented her with a new violin so that she can continue her art and maybe serenade a few more unexpecting guests. She laughed at the thought that a producer might be coming at her with a record contract.
“When I was little I would tell my mom that I wanted to be a singer when I was older, but I really like law enforcement,” she said. “This is the career that I've made for myself.”
The young officer has been on the job for a mere seven months. She graduated Victoria College's police academy in May and was hired here quickly after, and she already states a commitment to her fellow officers and the city.
“I honestly don't know what drove me to it, but I am really glad that I chose this, because there is nothing I could possibly be doing that makes me happier,” she said. “I love my job here. And I think a lot has to do with who I work with, who I work for — this is an amazing city to work for. I'm really happy to work here.”
As a patrol officer, Sanchez answers calls and runs the usual beat, but also finds time to visit Gonzales schools and have lunch alongside students. It's a way that she makes herself and her department visible and approachable. As for the video, she agrees that it is a way to humanize the force and build community relationships where people feel comfortable talking to authorities about potential crimes or dangers.
“Just like you, we have a life outside of our jobs,” Sanchez said, “And we have friends and we do stuff and hobbies, but it shows them that we are people. We're not just here to ruin somebody's day. I think it's really good for people to see us and who we are, to feel that they can talk to us and feel safe.”
Attached below is the Facebook post.