If you’ve logged onto the Internet within the past week, surely you’ve stumbled across the viral video of several NYPD officers having too much fun at the 44th annual West Indian Day Parade. (Full disclosure, the parade, while fun, takes place a block from my house. I’ve been once in seven years, and that year, my then-boyfriend dived on top of me when a man started shooting — and that’s why I haven’t been back.)

In case you missed it, a few officers were standing along the parade route as the crowd passes by. Women “playing mas,” i.e., dressed in skimpy, glittery sequined costumes as per tradition — remember the pics of Rihanna celebrating carnival in Barbados several weeks back? Yes, that. Okay, those women decided to wine up (that’s backing it up for my American readers) on the officers. Presented with the appealing, shaking (some thong-clad) backsides of the revelers, the policemen began dancing, or “daggering” with the women. (For my non West Indians, “daggering” is… how can I put this? — a man thrusting his nether regions with much force into a clothed woman’s tush. It sounds like what it is, and the dance form and the music encouraging it has been banned in Jamaica after several men “broke” their penises. But I digress…).

Anyway, this is all caught on tape, posted on World Star Hip-Hop, and the video was seen by over one million people, several of which go ballistic because of the dancing cops. Then an investigation is launched to look into the behavior of the officers.

To put the outrage in context, the weekend of the parade, 48 people were shot in New York City. Along the parade route, notorious for violent incidents — this year there were three shootings, the police seized 14 firearms and made 16 arrests — the cops caught on tape were doing less protecting and more serving of you know what. “I would prefer that it not have happened,” New York City Police Chief Raymond Kelly told reporters. “But I don’t want to make too much of it. You know, these young women approached the officers. They didn’t go out of their way to be approached like this.”
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg also had a mixed reaction, calling the officers actions, “a little bit of poor judgment” but added the video might be “a great advertisement for New York.”
Me? I’m often called a prude for my somewhat conservative outlook, but eh… I can’t even be mad about this. From the 41-shots that flew at Amadou Diallo to the murder of Sean Bell on his wedding day, to the officers who got off on a rape charge (that everyone thought they were guilty of), I’ve made and heard of untold numbers of complaints about the NYPD. It’s actually refreshing to see the officers in a relaxed, non-threatening mood, and the crowd — all smiles and cheers — enjoying their presence instead of resenting or fearing it. That’s a rare moment in my city –  and probably yours too.

Was this harmless fun or were the officers in the wrong? Or both?
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk

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