Whether elaborate lip-syncing music videos by law enforcement officers are merely a brilliant public relations move or a sure sign of the apocalypse, they are a viral fad to be reckoned with in the summer of 2018.
A blue tsunami of lip-syncing cops, deputies and troopers from one side of the country to the other can be seen strutting their stuff and mouthing the words to their favorite songs merely by typing #LipSyncChallenge on your keyboard. Millions of people have done just that.
“It’s been around for awhile,” said Det. Brandon Davis of the Mount Airy Police Dept. “But in the last few weeks, it’s become a thing.”
The ‘thing’ of which Det. Davis speaks is law enforcement agencies across the country filming elaborate music videos. Each video is produced by a particular law enforcement organization and features its members lip-syncing a popular song while engaging in sometimes elaborate choreography and staging. The video is then posted to social media and other departments (usually in the vicinity) are challenged to respond with a video of their own.
Mount Airy Police Department got in on the action when they posted their video to Facebook on Wednesday. In just two days, the video has been viewed 198,000 times, shared 6,900 times and generated 550 comments. (Those statistics, current as of Friday at 2:30 p.m., are rapidly moving skyward.)
“I think they did a really good job,” said Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson, who did not personally participate in the production of the video.
The Mount Airy officers chose the 1982 Survivor power ballad, “Eye of the Tiger” which morphs part way through to a scene of female officers lip-syncing their way through Katy Perry’s 2013 hit, “Roar” which also features the lyrics, “Eye of the Tiger.”
“It allows the community to see a different side of law enforcement,” said Watson. “We’re not always authoritative figures, We’re members of the community, too. This shows us in a more light-hearted way.”
“Det. Cox should get the credit for getting this started,” said Davis, who is credited by some officers as also being, along with Cox, the brains behind the operation.
“We first sought permission from the administration,” said Davis. “When it was granted, we began working. We sought input from everybody. We wanted everyone’s opinion and for everyone to be involved in some way. Some people were not comfortable being on-camera, but they were able to have input.”
“By far, the vast majority was done on officer’s personal time,” said Davis, who added that he had said so when posting the video.
Some departments have filmed their videos with dash cams, but Davis said, “we filmed ours with a handycam. It was Det. Cox’s personal equipment.
“My part was filmed at night,” said Community Policing Officer Gerald Daniel. “We started at 10:30 and went until 11:30 or 12. There was nobody on the streets. That’s what we wanted. We didn’t want anyone to know what we were doing, so it would be a surprise. I think the few people who saw us knew we were up to something, but they didn’t know what. People had been asking if we were going to do it, but we kept it quiet until it was ready to go.”
By all accounts, the police department’s excursion into filmmaking has been a success.
“There has been a lot of positive feedback from the community,” said Watson.
“I absolutely believe it has been a success,” said Davis. “From the number of views to the positive messages to comments from the public, it’s been just what we intended. We’ve been approached by the public, and they say, ‘I saw you in the video. Can I have your autograph? It’s been great public outreach for the department. It shows we’re people too. We can think outside the box. We can be less than serious when we want to be.”
As to whether being perceived as less than serious is a good thing, Watson said, “It’s all in the manner it’s edited and presented. I’m not concerned it won’t be viewed as a positive thing.”
“We haven’t had any backlash, no negative feedback,” said Davis. “Out of more than 500 comments, I’ve only had to remove one that was derogatory.”
“I’m very happy with it,” continued Davis. It’s hard to beat Norfolk. They set a high bar.”
The Norfolk, Virginia, lip-sync version of “Uptown Funk” has been viewed 91 million times and generated 198,000 comments. It has more views than any other lip sync challenge video and is widely considered by aficionados of the art form to be the gold standard by which all others are measured.
As the challenge part of their lip sync challenge video, the Mount Airy officers challenged the other law enforcement organizations in Surry County — Surry County Sheriff’s Department, Pilot Mountain Police Department, Dobson Police Department and Elkin Police Department — to take their shot.
Pilot Mountain Police Chief Darryl Bottoms is out of town at a conference, but a spokesperson for the department said the challenge has been accepted, “we’re waiting for the chief to get back on Monday, to see what we’re going to do.”
Dobson Police Chief Shawn Myers said, “I have no response to that, because I don’t know what it is.”
Elkin Police Chief Monroe Wagoner responded by email, “Out of town at the NCPEA Conference. I have not been made aware of what you are referring to.”
Mount Airy Police Department’s #LipSyncChallenge video can be found at — https://www.facebook.com/MAPDNC/videos/210003586528017/
The Norfolk, Virginia, video can be found at — https://www.facebook.com/NorfolkPD/videos/2112631222112658/
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.