DOVER — On Tuesday morning,television crews lined up for time with the Dover Police Department’s worldwide YouTube sensation.
As Master Cpl. Jeff Davis exited after an interview at Philadelphia’s Fox 29 studios, he said reporters from KYW-TV (CBS) and WPVI-TV (ABC) approached to ask more questions.
So two more street interviews regarding Cpl. Davis’s suddenly famous rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” song recorded on a Dover Police dashboard camera ensued.
As so many folks — nationally and internationally — know by now, last Friday’s video of Cpl. Davis grooving to the beat in his patrol car quickly was posted on the Dover Police Department’s Facebook page via YouTube and garnered millions of views, literally.
By 8 a.m. Tuesday, video views were up to 18.1 million and still climbing. The count was up to just over 19.1 million by 4:30 p.m.
The vast interest in the lighthearted Dover video continues to grow, and the star of the show will appear on three national television morning news programs today.
The Dover Police officer is scheduled to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., followed by NBC’s “Today” show anywhere from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and then Fox News “America’s Newsroom” at 10:40 a.m.
The whirlwind that began in earnest Saturday morning as the video spread around the world continues unabated at this point.
Cpl. Davis, a 47-year-old, 19 1/2-year police department veteran, said he is scheduled for a patrol shift in Dover on Thursday but “at this point I have no idea what happens between now and then.”
Before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Cpl. Davis also had taken part in two radio shows and would later field questions from two newspapers. Add in the three television appearances, and it was quite a day by early afternoon.
“It’s fun, but when you have instant attention to this degree it’s overwhelming,” Cpl. Davis said.
“That’s the only word I can use — overwhelming. It’s a lot, but I’m going to continue to ride it out and handle it the best I can.”
Cpl. Davis was scheduled to leave for New York City later Tuesday in preparation for the early morning television appearances the next day.
Public Information Officer Cpl. Mark Hoffman and Lt. Jason Pires, who hatched the idea of producing Dover Police videos to spark public interest and entertain the department’s Facebook followers, were to accompany Cpl. Davis on the trip to New York City.
Trip costs — including travel and lodging — will be covered entirely by the television networks, Cpl. Hoffman said, and will not cost the city of Dover a penny.
There was talk of an appearance on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” but the scheduling fell through on the television show’s side, Cpl. Hoffman said.
Cpl. Davis, who said he’d never done an on-camera interview before Tuesday, was “nervous at first but once I got on there and they started talking to me, it got better.”
Positive police publicity
The video took off and shined positive publicity on police, which has been challenged lately after nationally reported incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
On Tuesday, Cpl. Davis took part in a Philadelphia-based WMMR-FM radio show with his brother Donnell, a police sergeant in Woodbury, N.J. Cpl. Davis said his brother called the show to set up the appearance.
Friends and family have been calling regularly, which has helped the sudden celebrity.
“Talking to my close friends and family helps put my mind at ease and eliminates the stress,” Cpl. Davis. “They are there to support me and help keep me going as this (plays itself out).”
Cpl. Hoffman said the video originally was produced to increase and entertain followers on Dover Police’s social media platforms while better connecting with the local community, and has nearly doubled its Facebook page followers so far — going from 10,600 before the video to roughly 19,000 as of Tuesday morning.
Also, subscribers to the Dover Police’s YouTube account rose from 130 to 18,000 or so, Cpl. Hoffman said.
Late Saturday night, even the original singer who made the tune a hit was enjoying the video.
On Twitter, Ms. Swift tweeted, “LOLOLOLOL THE SASS.”
Today’s appearances could spike another surge in YouTube views and attention directed to the department’s Facebook page; Cpl. Hoffman said after an ABC “World News Tonight” family-oriented feature regarding the video on Saturday, 100,000 more views were recorded on YouTube within 20 minutes.
Many grateful viewers
Via email, phone and social media, numerous well-wishers from around the world have connected with Dover Police to offer thanks, officials said.
One correspondence came from a woman fresh out of chemotherapy who appreciated a good laugh while watching Cpl. Davis over and over; another man was mourning the recent loss of a close relative and said he couldn’t help but smile a bit as the video played. Parents checked in as their kids found joy in the version of “Shake It Up” during hospital stays.
“At the end of the day none of the view numbers really matter because eventually they will stop growing (at the rate they are now),” Cpl. Hoffman said.
“It is nice right now and I think the country needed to see good police news, and law enforcement needed and appreciated it. That’s what matters to us.”
Fame likely is fleeting, but Dover Police will remain committed to serving the local public interests first, authorities said.
There’s a lot more potential for communication on social media now, thanks to the viral video.
“The popularity is going to go away in a couple days, but our focus continues to be the people of Dover,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “We want to stay connected with them, and there’s obviously more of a base for that now.”
On Saturday night, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell contacted Cpl. Davis.
“He thanked Jeff for putting a positive spin on our job and shining a spotlight on Delaware,” Cpl. Hoffman said.
Cpl. Hoffman offered thanks to the original followers of the Dover Police Department’s social media avenues, who initially shared the video Friday afternoon, launching a worldwide viral event.
“Our local followers made this all possible,” he said.
The police department is evaluating where to take the video production realm next, and plans to offer humorous looks at officers in the future, Cpl. Hoffman.
“It won’t be every day, or every week, but perhaps we’ll put out something every month or so,” he said. “(The videos) will be something simple and fun.
“This won’t take away from our regular police work and duties, and ultimately they will be done when the time is right to do them.”