Police Across U.S. Try to Soften Image With Elaborate Dance-Off Videos

Killing fewer unarmed black kids is hard, so cops are taking the "Running Man Challenge."


Cops: they like to dance. They know how internet websites work. They're just like us! See? See?

Los Angeles Police Department via AP
Miami Police Department via AP

The above images are part of the Los Angeles and Miami police departments' efforts to counter "anti-police rhetoric" and present a kinder, more carefree image of police life. To this effect, "police officers across the U.S. are dancing an updated version of the running man to a catchy 1990s hip hop song in videos that have included professional sports mascots, cheerleading squads and at least one explosion," the Associated Press reports. The videos, set to the song "My Boo," started in early may after cops in New Zealand issued the "Running Man Challenge" to officers with the New York Police Department. 

If police want to challenge each other to dance-offs in their spare time, that's none of my business. But considering that most cops don't have personal access to cheerleading squads and explosives, it looks like departments are spending municipal money (and time) on these ploys to drum up good PR for themselves. The AP reports that law enforcement's please-go-viral videos "have been steadily getting more elaborate."

Detroit cops even made good use of a heavy-duty SWAT truck in their video. Police militarization as clickbait! All the cool cops are doing it! 

Robert Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University, said the videos were no doubt a "rhetorical act of public relations"—like a "Coca Cola ad" or a "propaganda film." 

"The videos are about more than officers cutting loose," the AP article assures us.

They come as police departments across the U.S. are facing increased scrutiny and public criticism in the wake of a series of officer-involved deaths of young, unarmed black people.

Many departments have been working to become more community-friendly and improve their image. That includes turning to the power of social media.

"Across this nation, there's a lot of anti-police rhetoric," Detroit police Chief James Craig told AP. "Do you believe this might have a profound impact on reducing that? I mean, you talk about how many shares so far? People like it, they appreciate it, and this is a move in the right direction."

Yeah, or maybe American police could just kill less unarmed black people? I mean, among other things, but that would be a start. Maybe cops could even start issuing each other a new "running man challenge": Can the department go a whole year without fatally shooting anyone in the back for trying to flee? Zany! Fun! Or, at the very least, less socipathic seeming than the current PR attempts. And something tells me that fewer "officer involved shootings," sex-worker rapes, and other abuses of power would go a lot further toward improving law enforcement's image than videos of cops jumping smiling out of SWAT vehicles.  

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  1. The campaign is a failure if it doesn’t show up on Fox and Friends.

    1. The police sycophants in the media approve!

  2. Well, I never assumed they had any dignity.

  3. Apparently, Idiocracy is not gonna wait for Trump’s inauguration.

  4. “Yes, they were knocking on her window,” Bielski said. “For all we know … they were asking how she was doing.”

    Classy. Yeah, your picketing hotels because “work is being done there” Right.

  5. I know some cops these days. They are insufferable with their propaganda.

    I see these videos and just think – we are paying these sacks of shit while they make Youtube videos.

    1. I didn’t even think of that. They are on duty, aren’t they?

    2. maybe someone can correct me if Im wrong here but I could have sworn that domestic propaganda is illegal. I realize its widespread, but the state regularly flouts the law (see the constitution for further examples) so the fact that the state widely & shamelessly engages in it doesnt strike me as a compelling counterpoint. IIRC it might have been an executive order, similar to the now-forgotten ignored Eo prohibiting assassination. Also I realize a federal law on this would not necc. prohibit propaganda efforts by local & state govt’s, but could cast shade on propaganda efforts manufactured by states but paid in whole or in part for by feds, like the contemptibly dishonest antismoking commercials that run once every five minutes throughout Florida.

  6. “Yeah, or maybe….”


  7. or maybe American police could just kill less unarmed black people?

    The subtitle was correct – it’s “fewer.” The police should kill fewer unarmed black people, and fewer people in general.

    The commenters have snarkily reminded you of this mistake in the past, and if it happens again I am going to start sending you strongly worded letters, and trust me I know some pretty strong words.

    Gillespie sets a bad example.

    1. When I really want to get my point across, I send real notes with cut-out letters from magazines and smear some white powder and feces on it.

    2. So you’re lecturing a Libertarian about following rules? Talk about thankless job. Like herding cats.

      1. Hey, I’m the kind of guy who likes to eat dessert first, so I know what it is like to break a rule or two, but even the most rebellious have to toe the line every now and then.

        1. I gave my lion a name. Then I shot him and ate him.

        2. I believe the proper local usage is, “tow the lion.”

        3. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to eat dessert first,”

          So you’re kind of like Jesse James.

  8. ” or maybe American police could just kill less unarmed black people?”

    Unarmed white people don’t matter, huh.

    Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    1. I personally would have gone with ‘or maybe American police could just kill less unarmed PEOPLE’. Which was going to be my comment until I arrived at the sentence in the article.

    2. We all know the cops just shoot token unarmed white people so the numbers aren’t so lopsided.

    3. That’s ENB’s first FAIL; her second (and to be fair, most people indulge this delusion) is the notion that conflates, “unarmed,” with, “not dangerous.”

      For example, if some violent criminal punches someone in the face, knocks the victim unconscious, then rapes and sodomises said victim, well that’s two weapons an “unarmed” person used: a fist and a penis/digit (or the same fist, making just one weapon then, assuming using the same fist). That type of person sounds pretty dangerous to me, even if, “unarmed.”

      1. That’s ENB’s first FAIL

        To be fair, she was just re-iterating the words from the AP article. But yes, that stuck out for me too. Race needs to be removed from the narrative or nothing will change.

      2. I am almost always armed. I am almost always not a threat to anyone.

  9. This shit’s really stupid and it’ll work, sadly enough.

    1. This shit’s really stupid

      Yes, except it is whatever stupider than really stupid.

      and it’ll work

      It will not, because the police have become their own enemy. The LAPD or Detroit Police will do something that will cancel out any good will these videos created.

      1. I hope you’re right but I’ve decided to stop giving the American people the benefit of the doubt. Their capacity to be suckered is almost limitless.

        1. Only police supporters appreciate these videos. Something like the political conventions, which I think are going to be crazy, will garner the police more sympathy from the American people.

    2. There’s no way this works. People today are wary of manufactured viral videos. The cop caught on camera giving a homeless guy boots in winter or the one recorded treating a bum to lunch, those are what gets to people today. And they came from actual decency.

      1. The cop caught on camera giving a homeless guy boots in winter or the one recorded treating a bum to lunch, those are what gets to people today.

        Sadly, those are the outliers, while beating and killing people for failure to show sufficient respect is the norm.

      2. And they came from actual decency.

        I’m too cynical to believe anyone who seeks out a profession where they are expected to use violence and deception to get their way, then lie about it on reports and in court, are capable of basic human decency.

  10. Killing fewer unarmed black kids PEOPLE is hard

    Let’s leave race out of it, Liz. I thought you were better than that.

  11. The problem isn’t that police kill unarmed black people; it’s that they get away with killing unarmed black people without being held to account. Because holding them accountable is too much for the poor babies.

    1. “I think cops are more afraid of the [criminal justice] system because they are close to it.

      I think anyone who has been close to our criminal justice system is afraid of it and realizes pretty quick that all those TV shows about principled or highly competent professionals truly are fictitious.

    2. Yup. The shooting is bad enough of course, but it’s the total lack of accountability that prevents the system from self-correcting. And it isn’t just the police.

      Until that gets fixed, none of the rest of it matters.

  12. I suggest avoiding the use of “Safety Dance” in any of their videos. We all know what happens collaterally when safety enters a cop’s thought process.

    1. You know, that dance wasn’t as safe as they said it was.

    2. You know, that dance wasn’t as safe as they said it was.

    3. I will now queue up Men Without Hats for my morning distraction.

  13. You know who else made bad dance videos?

    1. Most of the people who have ever tried to make a dance video?

      1. If by “bad” you mean awesome.


    2. The 80’s?

  14. this is the “darkest timeline” version of TV on the radio’s “golden age” video. sad.

  15. I’m glad they’ve found a creative way to meet their department-assigned weight requirements and do PR at the same time.

    Now go have a celebratory meal at a Dunkin Donuts.

  16. Dammit I was going to make that running man joke (running man challenge = how many shots to the back does it take to kill an innocent person?) and she beat me to it.

    Need to make a couple corrections though:

    Yeah, or maybe American all police pigs could just kill less fewer unarmed black people?

    OK that is better.

  17. There’s a reason “Cop Rock” was cancelled.

  18. Taser Dance!

  19. Lots of them like the “Bridgeport Stomp”… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..1647583001

  20. OMG, this is fucking stupid.

    If you don’t want to scare people, try not looking scary.
    Try not dressing up in combat gear and driving military personnel carriers around.

    On the other hand, if you really think that everyone’s out to get you and you need all this military gear to keep from getting killed, then maybe you shouldn’t be so worried about scaring people.

    It’s is better to be loved than feared, but nearly impossible to be BOTH loved AND feared.
    I’m just paraphrasing Machiavelli here. If you think you need all that gear, please degrade yourself by singing and dancing in it.

  21. Heard on the radio this morning that cops all across New England are attending the funeral for Massachusetts state trooper Tarantino. To honor their fallen brother. And my first thought was, “on the clock”. Too cynical ?

  22. Yeah, or maybe American police could just kill less unarmed black people?

    Or even better, *fewer* unarmed black people.

  23. This application is really good and very easy to use because you can never get an app which streams way of the latest and even the oldest videos. showbox

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