Dover police officer becomes YouTube viral phenomenon

DOVER — A bit of good police news quickly circulated worldwide — with way more than four million views — thanks to a lighthearted YouTube video produced by the Dover Police Department.

Tooling around in his patrol car in a secluded area of Schutte Park on Friday afternoon, Master Cpl. Jeff Davis mimicked the words of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” song while bobbing and grooving to the beat.

A dash cam captures Dover Police Master Cpl. Jeff Davis lip-syncing and dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

A dash cam captures Dover Police Master Cpl. Jeff Davis lip-syncing and dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

An in-car video recording caught the act, part of the Dover PD’s new feature dubbed “Dash Cam Confessionals” and designed to heighten community awareness of the agency’s online and social media presence.

Two takes were needed to get it right, and by about 2:30 p.m. or so, public information officer Cpl. Mark Hoffman had edited the video and posted it on the Dover PD’s Facebook page.

According to Cpl. Hoffman, the video had 10,000 views within three hours via Facebook, and 300 on YouTube. By 10:15 p.m. Saturday, the YouTube views stood at 4,172,048 and rising, with 38,779 thumbs up (like it) and 720 thumbs down.

Comments on the Dover PD’s Facebook page arrived from as far as Germany and Great Britain, circulation of the video shares reached to Australia along with police departments nationally.

“We’ve received a lot of thanks from police departments for the positive light this has put us in,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “It’s a nice time to see something related to police get a lot of good publicity.”

While conducting a local media interview, Cpl. Davis said a couple more requests came in on Saturday morning as interest continued to pour in.

Cpl. Hoffman said his cellphone rang almost nonstop Saturday morning from the interest the 4-minute, 11-second video produced, to the point that his battery ran down twice and needed to be re-charged.

The star of the show — the 47-year-old, 19 1/2-year PD veteran Cpl. Davis — said he was amazed at the immense response.

“I definitely didn’t know it would blow up like this,” he said. “I knew it would get views because it’s kind of a funny thing, but the level that it has reached is something I never could have imagined.”

By 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Cpl. Davis was doing a telephone interview with Fox & Friends News Weekend for television, and the video received mention and play by CBS This Morning and Good Morning America.

Cpl. Davis was more than willing to play the showman because the video “put as police officers in a different light than we’ve been in, which is a negative light. I was glad to do it.”

Perhaps the unknown hero in all this was Mr. Davis’s 10-year-old daughter who had introduced the likes of the Taylor Swift and “Shake It Off” pop culture to her dad.

“Thanks to her I already knew all the words quite well,” he said.

Cpl. Davis said while he was staggered by all the attention as his so-called “15 minutes of fame” stretched well beyond normal, “I’ll enjoy it while it’s here, but I’m a humble person and not get all worked up over it.”

The idea was spawned after the Dover PD’s Facebook page recently reached 10,000 followers, and Cpl. Hoffman and Lt. Jason Pires wanted to find a way to celebrate. The duo decided to begin a video production component to further spread the message, and Cpl. Hoffman thought Ms. Swift’s tune was the way to jump in.

Finding a crooner who could pull it off with the proper mix of personality and harmony was easy, Cpl. Hoffman said. He went right to Cpl. Davis, who immediately accepted the offer.

“I’ve known Jeff for 11 years; he’s an absolute goofball who is probably the funniest guy in the department,” Cpl. Hoffman. “He’s also got a heart of gold and would do anything to help out the police department or the community.”

Dover PD announced the feature on its Facebook page on Friday with the lead-in:

“While reviewing dashcam footage, we come across some interesting sights to say the least. We decided we would share some with you in a new web series called ‘Dash Cam Confessionals.’ We hope you enjoy this … and Taylor Swift if you’re watching … we’re sorry.”

The act will be tough to follow, and Cpl. Hoffman said the Dover PD is evaluating where to take the series from here. The original plan was to use five to six officers in videos of varying levity in a more personal view of law enforcement.

“I think it’s safe to say there will be more fun-style videos coming,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

While the worldwide hits and surprisingly massive coverage were appreciated, Cpl. Hoffman said the emphasis for the video production project is to connect with local residents.

“If we do another one that’s seen by people in California that’s great, but our main focus is on the people who will view it in Kent County,” he said. “Hopefully they watch it and continue to come back to look for more.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment