Detroit police bust moves in ‘Running Man’ video

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Dozens of Detroit Police officers brought their best dance moves to several picturesque city locations to film a viral music video that had more than 5 million views by Wednesday morning.

“I’m calling out Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago,” Chief James Craig said to the camera, with the song still playing in the background.

“Challenge accepted. #RunningManChallenge,” officials posted on the department’s Facebook page late Monday. The post called out the Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Chicago departments to put on a show of their own. In the video, Detroit Police Chief James Craig added an additional shout-out to New York City.

Craig previously served as police chief in Cincinnati before heading to Detroit.

The 3-minute, 53-second video of contagious silliness was set to Ghost Town DJ’s “My Boo,” a smooth song with a catchy beat perfectly matching the choreography performed by Detroit’s men and women in blue.

The point was threefold, Craig said at a Tuesday media gathering about the video. Officials want to attract new talent to its dancing department, boost inter-department morale and increase community involvement.

“We are part of the community; we are Motown,” Craig said. “This is really about the image of the city and the department. When people see that we’re human, they’re more willing to talk to us.”

As for recruitment efforts, the video concluded with a recruiting flier detailing in-person application opportunities all week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the department’s headquarters, 1301 3rd St. in Detroit.

The video got the attention of the Cincinnati Police Department, which accepted Craig’s challenge.

“Be ready,” Cincinnati Police Lt. Stephen Saunders said Tuesday. “We’re definitely putting something together. We’re not going to bow down and say Detroit has it all going on. We’re going to take care of business.”

“It’s good for morale,” Saunders continued. “It’s good for people to see us in a different light.”

Saunders said he loved Craig’s performance at the end of the video. He’s also looking forward to other cities responding to the challenge.

Officer Nicole Kirkwood, with the department’s Public Information Office, had a starring role with some fancy footwork on a break-dancing mat toward the end of the video.

“I’m glad I had an opportunity to be part of a great creation and the recruitment efforts for DPD,” she said.

Official efforts aside, Kirkwood said she “had a ball” with rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday leading up to filming Friday.

“There were a lot of people that were actually dancing,” she said of the shoot, produced and directed by co-worker Sgt. Michael Woody. “Fortunately, I was able to make the cut.”

Craig expressed surprise at the video’s viral status.

“This feels good,” he said. “It’s certainly beyond my wildest dreams. I’m humbled.”

The Running Man Challenge was launched by two teens in New Jersey, according to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, which featured the dancers. Their video was picked up by members of the Maryland men’s basketball team, which created its own version. By then, a viral craze had begun.

Now, local police precincts across the country have jumped on the bandwagon to create their own versions, challenging each other to keep the dance going.

Detroit’s challenge actually was issued by a fan of a similar video produced by the Los Angeles Police Department, Woody said.

“They said ‘Where you at, Detroit,’ ” Woody said of the call-out. “And we’re like, OK. That’s all we need.”

Officials quickly got to work, with Cpl. Eddie Torres of the 4th Precinct providing choreography.

“This was the one opportunity I had to tell (Craig) what to do,” he said.

Craig said his video rose to the challenge, setting the bar high for other departments.

“LAPD needs a redo,” he said, with tongue-in-cheek competitiveness. “And I called out New York because did you see their video? There’s nothing else to say.”

In Detroit’s video, the song opened at the iconic “Spirit of Detroit” statue before quick cameos of other Detroit locales: Comerica Park, the Joe Louis fist with the Renaissance Center backdrop, and a neighborhood house with an American flag proudly displayed out front.

Then the police arrived, sirens and lights flashing.

Outside a General Motors building, uniformed officers piled out of a SWAT van and immediately broke into their best “Running Man” moves. Plainclothes officers joined in on the fun. Everyone was laughing.

At various points in the video, the crowd dispersed to surround individuals showcasing their own moves, including two officers demonstrating serious break-dancing skills on a mat placed atop a parking garage with views of downtown Detroit.

Detroit kids even got in on the action, dancing alongside a fully uniformed officer at the Detroit River, as bystanders watched. Later, officers frolicked in the Hart Plaza fountain.

Much of the video featured officers letting loose with their own moves, until about halfway through when groups of officers took to the rooftop parking garage to perform synchronized dances, flanked by Detroit police cars and motorcycles.

All this revelry built to the video’s last minute, where the stars met up at downtown Detroit’s Joe Louis fist statue. The music continued as officers dressed in identical light blue button-up shirts and dark blue pants gradually danced to each side, falling into a formal salute. As they cleared a center aisle, a star absent from the rest of the video finally was revealed: Chief Craig, dancing between his officers and toward the camera.

“I’m calling out Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago,” the chief said to the camera, with the song still playing in the background.

“We outta here,” he continued. “Join the DPD.”

The video concluded with Craig dropping a duty belt on the ground, followed by an officer theatrically dropping a doughnut. The move was a nod to previous videos released by departments, featuring officers “mic-dropping” handcuffs and other police gear.

“We wanted to stop that and drop everything; we had everything in that belt,” Woody said.

Why add the doughnut?

“It was just to make sure (other departments) don’t get any ideas,” he said with a smile. “We wanted to lock it down and secure the deal.”

Craig ended the news conference Tuesday with a reference to his upcoming visit to New York City to attend a police conference.

“Maybe I’ll be met with a warm reception,” he said, referring to his very public challenge to that department.

Reaction to the viral video appeared mostly positive, with a few of the numerous comments questioning whether the city was safe as dozens of its officers took time to dance.

“If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been fighting crime since I got here,” Craig said in response to critics. “(Our crime rate) is going down while many (other major cities) are going up.

“So to the naysayers, get off the fence, be part of the solution.”

Craig elaborated on his point by addressing a rash of weekend violence.

“We can’t have people settling disputes with firearms,” he said, directing further comments toward perpetrators. “We’re going to find you. Trust and believe, we’re going to lock you up.”

Despite some critics, most viewers took time discussing various dance moves spotted through out the video and praising the department for showcasing its silly side.

“It’s always great to see the better side of the D, especially in the midst of all the killings and negativity,” TaShombe Bless’d Inge commented early Tuesday. “I definitely approve this video. I love it.”

Requirements to join the dancing police department include business attire for the interview and a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, U.S. citizenship and no felony convictions. Applicants also must be 18 years or older.

(313) 223-4616


Detroit News Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.