Some NYPD officers were caught on video dirty dancing with revelers at last weekend's West Indian Day Parade. Their moves have sparked controversy.
In the footage above, two cops stand around awkwardly when approached by parade participants. Two others, however, are more than happy to get down. This has the local media in an uproar — says Jim Dolan of WABC, "it's clear the officers involved are acting inappropriately for men with guns who are on the job. In some cases, the dancing is beyond a suggestive manner." Dolan also notes that there were several shootings in the neighborhood on the day of the parade, and "the officers in the video were just a couple of blocks from the shootings, and it's not clear yet if they responded to them or stayed at their posts along the route." And a police source told the New York Daily News that the NYPD is investigating the officers in the video. The source says, "It's not corruption, but it looks bad. It's young cops doing something stupid."
How it looks is a matter for debate. Clearly, if cops were dancing when they should've been patrolling the area, that the problem. And on the one hand, it might be a good idea for a department still reeling from a high-profile rape case to train its members to behave extra-conservatively. On the other hand, the dancing on the video is clearly consensual, with many dance partners gleefully high-fiving the officers. It's possible to read the dancing as police bonding with a community and winning back some of its trust. A commenter on YouTube says as much: "They are human too... at least they show their human side and that they can get along with people in the black community and they are not just here to beat up on us..." Clearly if the cops in question were failing to respond to actual crimes, they deserve to be disciplined. Otherwise, though, maybe the department's making too much out of a little dancing.