Take a stuffed bull, two cowboy hats, hundreds of cheering partygoers and four dancing cops. Add a viral video and you get community policing that bridges language and culture -- and brings people together.
The video from a June 10 call that started with a complaint about loud music has more than 22,000 views on the York Police Department’s Facebook page. That’s almost three times as many people as live in the city York.
“It was great fun,” said Cpl. Matt Piper, 32, the senior officer at the scene. “We want people to see us not just as law enforcement officers, but as friends. It is all about community.”
Cpl. Trinity Redmond, 29, another veteran officer, said joining the dance broke the tension and bridged a language gap. Redmond even donned the bull for the bull dance as two other cops put on cowboy hats.
It all started with a pair of new officers backed up by the two veterans who showed for a loud music complaint. Jaleel Smith, 22, a rookie, was with rookie Hunter Padgett at the call on McClain Street. The music was shut right off and the people at the party wanted to be nice and respectful of their neighbors, the officers said.
“It was harmless and they invited us to dance,” Smith said. “So we did. We want people to know we are on their side.”
Padgett, 23, said a police call does not have to be a negative confrontation.
“We just wanted to show the people there we are there for them,” Padgett said.
Piper and Redmond went to the house as part of the training and backup of the two younger officers. Piper and Redmond saw the party was important to the families and the police presence had drained enthusiasm and stopped the dancing.
So they asked them to turn the music back on -- but not too loud.
Then they danced.
“When it was over everybody wanted a picture of us with them,” Piper said.
York is a small department with about 30 officers. The police chief, Andy Robinson, has stressed community policing and interaction in his six years on the job.
The “hilarious” dance by his officers among York’s growing Hispanic population is another great example of connecting with the community the police protect and serve, Robinson said.
The dance went on for several minutes. The officers hung in there as the music played and the crowd danced and cheered.
When it was over, the officers left after handshakes and hugs to take other calls. It was a long night.
“Dancing with 33 pounds of equipment on is exhausting,” Redmond said. “But worth every minute.”