"Snowboarding with the NYPD" Video Proves Cops Have Discretion, Can Be Cool

Casey Neistat's viral clip features two "awesome" officers who let the fun happen.


Viral videomaker Casey Neistat's clip of him and his friend Oscar Boyson snowboarding through the streets of Manhattan during last Saturday's blizzard has been viewed nearly 6,000,000 times on Youtube as of Monday afternoon. Set to a remix of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," Neistat and Boyson shred the streets of Gotham while holding onto jet ski ropes tethered to the back of a Jeep.

As noted at the start of the video, a city-wide travel ban on cars went into effect at 2:30pm on Saturday and although a behind-the-scenes video indicates that much of the urban extreme winter sporting was done before then, Neistat and his cohort were still on the road for a while after the ban went into effect. 

Using GoPro cameras and a drone floating overhead, Neistat and company capture some spectacularly fun footage of weather-weary pedestrians cheering with delight (one even gets to take a brief ride) as these two goofballs risk life and limb to do something deliberately silly and almost certainly in violation of any number of laws. But perhaps the most life-affirming moment of the video comes at the very end, when the riders pass an NYPD vehicle which promptly pulls them over, lights-flashing and sirens-blaring.

Just when you're expecting the record to scratch and the party to come to a bruising halt, one of the officers (whose face is unseen) tells Neistat, "Someone complained about you, so we're just gonna act like we're talking to you, alright?" To which Neistat replies, "You guys are awesome." 

This is a far cry from the NYPD officer who gave Neistat a ticket for riding his bike on the street but outside of a designated bike lane (which is not illegal), an incident which inspired the 2011 viral video of Neistat strictly adhering to bike lanes and thus violently crashing into several impediments (including a police cruiser). 

The officers who did not arrest (or even so much as hassle) Neistat this past Saturday provide a living example that cops have discretion over which petty violations they choose to enforce, and that they also have the autonomy to choose how and when to escalate a potential confrontation. Sadly, the NYPD officers who detained Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk over his alleged sale of loose cigarettes chose the opposite tack: to vigorously enforce a "low-level offense" and use violent force to neutralize Garner's non-violent non-compliance, which led to Garner's death. 

The surprising tolerance of joie de vivre wasn't confined to New York's Finest, the blizzard brought out the fun in at least one of Washington DC's police officers, who played some pretty rough-and-tumble sidewalk football with the citizenry.

In Gainesville, FL a few weeks back, a police cruiser's dashcam captured an official response to a neighbor's noise complaint that some kids were playing basketball (loudly!) in the street. The officer who responded casually approached the kids and proceeded to play ten minutes of pickup hoops with them before going on his way. The Gainseville PD edited the video and posted it to Facebook (where it has been viewed more than 15,000,000 times) with the added message that "We're going to let kids be kids. We're going to focus on the ones that commit crimes."