Rising to national challenge, Danville officers hit the streets with dance moves

Police responded to the Danville Area Humane Society on Thursday, but not to arrest anyone.

Approximately 20 trainees and sworn officers crowded the shelter’s hallway to film the department’s lip-sync challenge.

The shelter posted a vague message to its Facebook page Wednesday, seeking people willing to wear the shelter’s animal costumes and assuring those interested they could “dance away with total anonymity.”

And the volunteers showed, dressed in a variety of costumes, to mingle with the police, who wielded novelty-sized bones and leashes, as they lip-synced “Who Let The Dogs Out,” pumping their fists and hopping down the shelter’s hallway.

The commotion upset Bubba, an umbrella cockatoo occupying the lobby’s corner, who bit his cage and eyed the throng of police nervously.

The lip-sync challenge has circulated on Twitter since July 2, apparently originating with the East Lansing Police Department in East Lansing, Michigan, according to a tweet-tracking website. It aims to promote awareness for mental illness, according to Twitter. Police departments across the country have seized on the hashtag, posting videos of officers lip-syncing to well known songs and, sometimes, issuing a challenge to other police departments.

Close to 700 tweets have mentioned the #lipsyncchallenge, according to Twitter metrics.

After one off-tempo take at the shelter, the assembled officers and trainees motored over to the Dan River Crossing — the next filming location.

Though nobody challenged Danville’s Police Department, Lt. Mike Wallace said the video fit into the department’s policing philosophy.

“It fits in nicely with our community engagement,” Wallace said. “It’s a fun thing to do.”

Capt. Tommy Merricks of the police department’s Community and Youth Engagement Unit, along with River City TV — Danville’s public-access television — thought the event would be fun for officers and the public.

“Departments all over the country are doing it,” said Mark Aron, River City TV’s multi-media manager. “You can tell with the lip-syncing [officers] had a really good time.”

As the officers and trainees arrived at the Dan River Crossing, a SWAT vehicle rolled into the parking lot. Officers often use the matte-black, armored car to safely approach armed suspects or execute search warrants in potentially dangerous scenarios, Wallace said. But on Thursday, trainees and officers were debating whether a kitted-out SWAT team member should dance on top of it for the video.

A few trainees, sweating profusely, did an arm-in-arm jig between takes and coached others on performing some of the dances. The video’s song selection included classic rock, rap, pop and other genres.

“I listened to 80s hair metal, man, I don’t know this,” Merricks said, stepping out of frame for one song.

For their last scene at the crossing, one trainee somersaulted across the line of officers to land singing, while another, Cliff Capps, did a convincing “The Worm” across the hot pavement. A police bloodhound, Rooster, also joined in the fun, locking paws with Merricks and swaying from side to side.

Capps, like many of the 20-odd assembled cadets and officers, said he had been challenged by friends to lip-sync. He did not explain the provenance of his worm, though.

“That was just a lot of fun,” he said breathlessly.

Finally, the trainees and officers made their way to the fountain overlooking the trees across the river. Despite the brutal heat, the trainees and officers, along with the Danville Police Chief Scott Booth, put their arms on each others’ shoulders and swayed, mouthing the words to “Love is all you need” for their final scene.

As the filming wrapped up, the assembled let out a cheer. When asked if the department would issue a challenge to other law enforcement agencies, Booth named Pittsylvania County and Martinsville as potential targets.

“We can certainly challenge them,” he said with a grin.

The video is expected to be released to the public Friday.


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