CHAMPAIGN — It’s been one year since Troy Daniels took off his police uniform and badge, but his career as a crime fighter is far from over.
It’s just taken on a new look.
The former deputy chief of the Champaign Police Department now is the founder and host of a podcast devoted to solving crimes and promoting understanding of criminal justice.
Two of his "True Crime Takedown" podcasts have already hit the airwaves. A third is in production.
“'True Crime Takedown' is a brand created by my digital company, called Crime Fighters Media,” said the 56-year-old Champaign native.
“We plan to create several brands to push out crime content in a number of ways. The primary focus of the company will be on national and global stories and tying in local Crime Stoppers organizations when possible,” he said.
With 34 years of experience as a patrol officer, detective, SWAT leader and administrator, Daniels has plenty of street cred and just as many stories to tell.
Troy Daniels said he chose to share the news of his heart health because he wants people to know how valuable and easily accessible the cardiac calcium-score screening test is.
His podcast mission is four-fold, he said.
“One is to find missing people; second is to solve unsolved crimes; third is to learn whatever lessons we can from solved crimes; and fourth is to get a deeper understanding of criminal justice issues of the day,” he said.
Daniels devoted his first podcast to a subject near and dear to his heart — the 1976 New Mexico murder case that launched Crime Stoppers.
“Crime Stoppers has played such a critical role in solving the cases I’ve been involved in locally, and it’s also been a really important part of my career,” he said.
For half his career, Daniels was actively involved in Crime Stoppers of Champaign County. He started as the Champaign Police Department’s liaison to the nonprofit group that pays rewards for anonymous tips that help police in their investigations.
In 2008, he became an advisor to Crime Stoppers USA and has served on its board since 2012, a role he continues.
Crime Junkie podcaster Ashley Flowers came to a Crime Stoppers USA conference to talk about her work and ended up inspiring Daniels about his retirement job.
Assisted by his wife, Kelly, a heart nurse by day who has a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in information technology, Daniels got his first podcast on the air June 30.
He met his own self-imposed deadline of July 1, just nine days shy of the one-year anniversary of his departure from the Champaign police force.
“The first episode was definitely a learning experience,” he said. “We had to learn how to insert music and edit. My wife learned the software really quickly. She is helping with the editing part of it.”
She also helps with just about every other aspect as well, including research, the website and marketing. Mitch Marlow, sales and public relations manager for Champaign’s Virginia Theatre, wrote the catchy theme music, titled “The Takedown,” for the podcast, which Daniels said he would like to keep between 20 and 45 minutes.
The star of the premiere 30-minute episode, former Albuquerque police Detective Greg MacAleese, is now a missionary in the Philippines.
“The beautiful part about technology is you can interview people anywhere. I interviewed (MacAleese) using GoToMeeting,” Daniels said.
“That was a video MP4 file. My wife converted it to audio and edited it into a podcast.”
The second podcast is about the 2010 murder of Taylor, Mich., police Officer Matthew Edwards, whose father, David, was the youth pastor at Bible Baptist Church in Champaign, where Daniels was a member as a boy.
Daniels said the feedback he’s received has been very positive.
“There lots of room for improvement. I’m just an old police officer who doesn’t know jack about journalism,” he said with a laugh.
That’s not stopping him from trying. And he’s hoping to supplement his retirement income by asking subscribers to pay $5 a month to hear his stories and help offset his operational costs.
For that fee, subscribers get early access to his bi-weekly ad-free episodes, one ad-free bonus episode per month, and video and audio extras.
To sign up, visit truecrimetakedown.com/team.