Racial tensions are touching the fabric of our culture, even here in the Twin Counties. Our police departments are staffed by good men and women who leave home each day knowing they might put their lives on the line.
So we applaud Veronica Mayhew of Hudson, who shot two videos of Hudson police officers dancing with a 5-year-old Hudson boy, videos that have gone viral. One video features Hudson police officer Jessica Mausolf dancing with young Neymar Henry. The second features Mausolf and her partner that night, Officer Randy Strattman, dancing with Neymar.
We thank Mayhew for depicting the lighter side of community policing and, more important, using music and dance to illustrate that policing can be synonymous with harmony and unity.
Mausolf and Mayhew are best friends and Neymar lives next door to Mayhew. Neymar and Mayhew were dancing outside when Mausolf drove up and parked. Mayhew turned to her and asked, Do you want to see him dance to Michael Jackson? And Mausolf said yes. Mayhew turned on Michael Jackson and Neymar started dancing and Mausolf joined in. Mayhew got her camera and started recording.
Perhaps symbolically, the song Mayhew turned on was “Beat It,” which was one of the first hit fusions of black funk and white rock (Eddie Van Halen plays guitar on the track). In a larger sense, the song cuts across lines of race and blows away the divisions.
Since posting the videos, Mayhew started -dancebattlechallenge, where she challenges all police officers in the nation to join in the fun. The videos were posted to make people smile and laugh, Mayhew said, and show them that we can overcome the racial divide and build a rapport with local police officers.
Strattman, seen at first looking somber and solicitous, suddenly smiles and breaks out some dance moves of his own in one of the videos. Mausolf said doing the dance-off was fun, and she has heard from a lot of supporters who have watched it.
Mayhew hopes that the dance-battle challenge will build relationships in communities across the country and bring back some trust.
We can have community policing built on trust, not mired in fear. We should be able to call our local police when we need them and not be afraid or intimidated. Little Neymar wasn’t afraid. Dance, anyone?