Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Teen inspired twinkle-toed cops

It was 16-year-old Maia Whitaker who first spotted the dance craze that has propelled Kiwi cops' sweet moves around the world.

Maia is the daughter of the police national manager for brand and engagement, James Whitaker, and her dad had been searching for a year for a dance craze our police officers could star in.

After Maia stumbled across the "running man", police released a video of Counties Manukau's "twinkle-toed staff" performing the dance and challenged their counterparts around the world to take part.

Maia, and millions of others, have since watched as police in New York, London, Scotland and Australia's Northern Territory and Tasmania have busted out their own responses.

Other crazes had been suggested but they weren't a good fit for the organisation, Whitaker told the Herald on Sunday yesterday.

Then Maia saw video of overseas sports teams doing the "running man" dance, and told her dad "I'd like to see our police do that".

So Whitaker put out an urgent call for Counties Manukau police officers and its media team to launch the challenge in case it took off before New Zealand police could get in first.

"When I watched it, I just thought, 'Wow, that's a real good feel, a good vibe.' I asked if they could do it in a day because it pays to get in quick with those things."

New Zealand police released their video on Tuesday and now fire and ambulance staff have joined the craze.

And with interest from Colombia, China and Ireland, the challenge is far from over, Whitaker said.

All the staff involved had previously expressed an interest in dance through the Beyond the Blue programme, which encourages the outside interests of police officers. One officer was so keen he came in on his day off, Whitaker said.

Video

Since the NZ video was posted on Facebook it has been viewed 8.5 million times, shared 90,000 times and commented on 30,000 times. It had appeared 26 million times on Facebook profile news feeds, he said.

"It has gone crazy, it's fantastic. Cultures connect through music and dance so I think that's a big part of it. The staff are taking part in it because they love to dance. That shows in our video. It's really refreshing and lighthearted and fun.

"People are saying, 'Police are not robots, they're everyday people like you and me.' We are lucky to see these police officers every day and we know them as people, so it's nice to share that with the world."

Video

- Herald on Sunday

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