The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department is “Happy,” but some critics aren’t that happy with it.
The department wanted to be seen as “approachable” and “hip” and naturally decided the best course of action was be to film a music video, according to Wisconsin Reporter.
So the department gathered about 25 of its employees and filmed the three-minute music video of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” (RELATED: Iranian Fans Arrested For ‘Happy’ Video, All Released Except Director)
But the catch is that the video was filmed while the officers were on duty, though it only took about 45 minutes to shoot and another several hours to edit. And the department is supported with taxpayer money. And it doesn’t have a budget for public relations.
The field coordinator for Citizens for Responsible Government criticized the department for filming the video, since it was on the taxpayer’s dime and its employees should have been protecting and serving the community.
“Instead of wasting time on this, they should be patrolling streets and arresting criminals,” coordinator Orville Seymer said.
Waukesha Taxpayers League president Jim Strand said he’d be more willing to support the video if it actually did something to help people out or provide useful information, such as warning students not to hitchhike.
But Chief Susan Riseling and UW-Madison spokesman Marc Lovicott said the video should help the department’s public image.
“We want students, staff and faculty to approach us with issues, problems, fears, concerns, need for information, and any other public service we can give them as our community,” Riseling told Wisconsin Reporter in an email. “In order to do that we have to show we have a sense of humor and we are up to date on the latest things in their world.”
While the department has produced other videos in the past, those were more like public service announcements about issues such as active shooter situations, moped safety and crime prevention. And this “Happy” video is the first “lighter and more tongue-in-cheek” video that the department has done, Lovicott said.
“I work hard to ‘humanize’ our department,” he said, “and make our officers approachable and well-liked in our community.”
But Seymer doesn’t think a simple music video will change students’ minds.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been that young,” he said, “but I don’t see any real benefit to the taxpayers for doing this video.”