Seattle police have joined law-enforcement agencies from around the country in the latest installment of a lip-sync battle. Seattle Mariners superstar Felix Hernandez and Mayor Jenny Durkan make cameos.
For Seattle residents who have been eagerly awaiting the Seattle Police Department’s lip-sync video, the wait is now over.
The video, set to Macklemore’s “Downtown,” was released last night and features officers rapping in front of a vintage police cruiser, Felix Hernandez tossing a fish at Pike Place Market and Mayor Jenny Durkan riding behind an officer on a scooter.
The video was made in response to a challenge from Norfolk Police Department in Virginia, where three current Seattle officers used to work. Seattle joins law-enforcement agencies across the country participating in the lip-sync challenge, which started in June.
Norfolk public-relations officer Daniel Hudson said he’s impressed with how Seattle police involved the community, but doesn’t think they were the sole winner of the challenge.
“I think that everyone wins with these videos,” Hudson said.
On Facebook, the Seattle Police Department challenged Metropolitan Police Service in the U.K.
Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said participating in the challenge allows officers to connect with the community. The video shows off Seattle landmarks, which Whitcomb said Macklemore’s “Downtown” music video — filmed in Spokane — did not.
“The final product will make the city proud,” Whitcomb said.
Seattle police were not originally planning to participate in the challenge, but decided to when they saw there was community interest, Whitcomb said.
Many readers who commented on The Seattle Times’ social media posts about the video expressed excitement. But some criticized the department, saying it should spend its time focused on reforms or responding to crime instead.
Whitcomb said officers worked on the video on their own time and were not compensated, with the exception of three officers tasked with traffic control when police filmed in Belltown. This was required by the film permit from the city, he said. Whitcomb has also used work hours planning the video, but considers it part of his job as public affairs director.
One critic is Andrew Pierce, a Navy veteran and Seattle attorney who specializes in estate planning and tax law. Pierce said it’s good to see police officers in a different light, but he doesn’t think the video is a good use of officers’ time.
“It just seems like a frivolous attempt at garnering community connection to me,” he said in an interview after posting a comment about the video on the Seattle Times Facebook page. “I’d like to see more from the department about how they’re increasing constitutional policing.”
The department has been under six years of court-ordered reforms addressing allegations of excessive force and biased policing, but was found to be in compliance with reforms in January. The department has been in a two-year review period since.
Whitcomb said the department has been transparent with the public about the July 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.
Seattle police have also created other videos to engage with the community, such as videos for National Night Out and Precinct Picnics events, Whitcomb said.