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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa police officers 'Whip' and 'Nae Nae' with Sulphur Springs youth on Halloween



The Tampa police officers at Trick-or-Treat with a Cop had spent the afternoon on Halloween passing out fistfuls of candy to sugar-crazed kids in Sulphur Springs. One officer, a DJ on the side, volunteered to play music all day, and for hours the kids with the best moves were awarded praise and prizes.

Then the trick-or-treaters decided they wanted to take charge of the judging.

And that's when about eight officers proved they could get down, too, posting a video to Facebook captioned, "Having a great time at our Trick or Treat with a Cop event in Sulphur Springs today. We're teaching kids safety tips and they're teaching us how to #NaeNae!"

This was the first year for the Trick-or-Treat with a Cop event, police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said Monday. The Sulphur Springs area has been at the center of a growing conversation about gun violence in Tampa since early this year. In March, 14-year-old Richard Newton was shot and killed when a fight broke out at a birthday party. The week before that, 16-year-old Ikeim Boswell was killed when a friend accidentally shot him in the neck behind a Sulphur Springs home. 

The event, McGregor said, was meant to humanize the officers who patrol the area.

"We wanted the kids in that community to have an enjoyable Halloween," McGregor said.

The Tampa Police Department isn't the first law enforcement agency to use music to connect. Last week, a dance-off recording between a teenage girl and a Washington D.C. cop went viral, and The Marshall Project, a news organization focused on the American criminal justice system, questioned whether these types of interactions are the new face of community policing.

The RICH House, which stands for Resources in Community Hope, hosted the Halloween event. It has been a mainstay in the Sulphur Springs area since the early 2000s, serving as a safe house for kids and parents,providing tutoring services and offering information about social services.

The officer who runs the RICH House in Sulphur Springs, Joann Stinyard, proposed the idea of the trick-or-treating event.

When it came time to Whip and Nae Nae on Saturday, Stinyard, dressed in khaki pants, was front and center.

And she won.

[Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2015 1:33pm]


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