Alum and successful Philadelphia reporter named director of communications for Department of Public Safety
Accomplished CBS News Philadelphia reporter and Temple University alum Matt Petrillo is set to join the Department of Public Safety as its first director of communications on Monday, Aug. 28.
Matt Petrillo, KLN ’12, is going back to where it all began.
The Temple alum was recently named director of communications for Temple University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS). He will start in the new role on Monday, August 28.
For more than a decade, Petrillo has worked as a TV news reporter. More than half of his career was spent covering the Philadelphia region.
His role at Temple is a new position for the university and is part of the DPS’ reorganization, which has been completed in an effort to increase the professionalism, training and organizational development of the department. The director of communications is one of 10 new positions that will help bring about these goals. As part of the reorganization, a deputy director of organizational affairs, director of tactics and professional development, and associate director of organization administration (HR) also recently joined the department.
“Since joining the Temple University family, I have said on a number of occasions that increased communications are going to be key to the department’s strategy moving forward,” said Jennifer Griffin, vice president for public safety. “While we have done a good job with increasing our communications through emails, announcements and social media, Matt’s expertise will allow us to both enhance and further build out our strategy. We are so excited to have him join the team and can’t wait for him to get started.”
Petrillo became familiar with campus safety issues around Temple’s campus through his work as a reporter.
“I covered developments around Temple so often that my colleagues joked I should have an office on campus. Now, I do,” he said.
During the course of the last year, he struck up a professional bond with Griffin, who he will report to directly in this new role.
“I’m thrilled to work with Dr. Griffin. I asked her some tough questions as a reporter. She never backed down. That says a lot about her character and her as a leader,” Petrillo said.
The respect that Petrillo has for Griffin is mutually shared.
“When I started in this role last August, Matt was one of the first reporters that interviewed me,” Griffin said. “We would go on to speak several other times during this past year, both during good times and during some very difficult and tragic times,” Griffin said. “The level of professionalism that he displayed always resonated with me. His passion for policing, storytelling and transparency is evident, and that makes him an ideal fit for this new role.”
As the DPS’ director of communications, Petrillo will be charged with crafting and disseminating messaging to a number of diverse audiences that include students, faculty, staff, parents and community members. In some instances, these messages might need to be sent to these key audiences at a rapid speed in an effort to help keep the Temple community safe.
Petrillo is also looking forward to helping shine a light on the great work being pursued by the department.
“There is so much positive work that is being done by the Temple Police, and I can’t wait to tell those stories, too,” Petrillo said. “Just earlier this month, a group of Temple police officers hosted a series of fun activities in the 22nd District recognition of National Night Out. This is community policing, and this is how you make a difference. It’s important that we share these stories, as well.”
Previously, Petrillo worked as a reporter for WBTW in South Carolina, where he broke the story of a police chief who believed she was fired for being gay. After a series of stories by Petrillo, the small town became the focus of the national media. The chief later got her job back, and she credited Petrillo's reporting. Later, when Matt worked at WNEP in Northeast Pennsylvania, he worked on a series of stories that revealed issues involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike's toll collection abilities.
At CBS News Philadelphia, Petrillo's reporting uncovered people making six figures while also living in public housing. He is also credited with helping to return thousands of dollars back to people from a contractor who never showed up to do multiple home repair jobs. And for years, Matt has continued to both cover and break developments in the case involving the mysterious death of Ellen Greenberg.
However, both his journalism and writing career can be traced back to North Broad Street, where he majored in broadcast journalism and worked as a writer and assistant news editor for the student-led newspaper The Temple News.