Dancing Into Deep Water

In the news today is the story of the Met PCSO’s who filmed themselves doing the Harlem Shake. The story is across many media outlets and the London Evening Standard version is here

There is a lot of discussion on Twitter tonight about the video and the response the Met have made by issuing written warnings to them all. One actually resigned. It seems they performed the routine in an underground car park (I assume at a police station/building) after the end of their shift. Once complete it was posted on YouTube. It is fair to assume that as they have been disciplined this was not sanctioned at any point by the Met.

This is not the first time daft things have been videoed and published. I can remember a fireman in a tumble drier and the popular video of the cops sledging on riot shields.

In recent times we have seen the Gangnam style videos by Sgt Gary Watts and the later version by GMP that were all done in support of Super Josh

So what’s the big fuss about? Were they ok to do this off duty and the Met overreacted or was this a daft thing to do and they deserve what they got?

I’m afraid on the info available tonight I fall into the latter. I’m told this was not planned and just something they did to wind down at the end of a shift. I don’t accept this. Arranging a camera, (probably a mobile phone), keys to all the vehicles, a bike, music and sound took some coordination. During that time did not one of them actually think that it was a stupid thing to do and may get them in trouble? Filming it for themselves and to show their partners/kids is questionable but to post it onto Youtube for the world to see? In 20+ years service I have never once considered winding down after a shift by videoing a dance routine in uniform. Am I missing a trick here?

Many folk are drawing comparisons to recent dance videos by the police. There is however a massive difference. Performing a dance routine with force approval for the benefit of a charity or needy case is fantastic community engagement. Something that shows we are human, shows we care and that we want to work together for the benefit of others outside of duty time.

There is nothing so far from this story that indicates this was the case. They would appear to have done it for a laugh and been stupid enough to think they might get a pat on the back for it. Pratting about for your own giggles and potential kudos by views on YouTube is NOT community engagement. It’s being stupid.

Other supporters indicate that cops are regularly videoed dancing at events, fetes, fairs and community days. They are indeed and when on duty, engaging with their communities, they are doing a tremendous job at breaking down barriers. The stunt reported today comes nowhere near this and cannot be put in the same camp.

So what happened with the sledging cops. According to the ITN video they got a severe reprimand. That, in plain English terms, is a “right bollocking”. The Supt is quoted as saying that “Snow has a tendency to bring out the child in us all”.

The sledge incident was in Thames Valley. They have a right to deal with their incidents as they see fit. Would a similar line of action been appropriate for the Met PCSO’s? Maybe. The bottom line is the Met have the right to decide for themselves what sanctions they impose on their own staff.

As a massive supporter of the use of social media by the police I am fully in support of engaging with our communities in new and diverse ways. To be fresh our teams need to be innovative and diverse in their thinking to create new ways of getting our messages out. How far do we let it go though? What next? Madonnas “Justify My Love”?

This event failed miserably on all counts. I can’t help but think that with some thought and application of common sense this could have been a great video for a worthy cause. It could have achieved so much and undoubtedly have had support from the very top. Instead they took it upon themselves to go solo and can hardly complain now they have egg on their faces.

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