The University Police Department (UP) is used to facing challenges.
But this challenge is different.
Though it was not called out, UP challenged themselves to participate in the “Lip Sync to the Rescue” trend. Now, they are the last police department in the state still in the competition.
When they decided to participate in a viral lip-sync trend earlier this year, officers Hector Torres and Allyson Cravero knew they would be stepping outside of their comfort zones.
“The fact that CBS even reached out to us in the first place was a shock, let alone one of the top 30 chosen,” Cravero said. “We were reaching all of these other videos while we were researching and thinking of what to do and there was a lot of other good ones out there, so it was really shocking.”
Audrey Clarke, a university spokesperson, said that the department was informed that out of the 30 finalists, 10 will be featured on the CBS special over the summer, where the winner of the competition will then be announced. The show will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. Currently, viewers can vote for their favorite of the 30 online and will be able to vote live during the CBS special from the top 10.
Another way the department was challenged was by engaging with the community and other departments on campus.
“We did our best to have the community in the video with us — interacting with the students and staff and Rocky of course — hopefully, they know that we are here for them and hopefully they will be here for us too and vote,” Cravero said.
Torres said he hopes the video will help the USF community to know that he and his fellow officers are approachable and that if they see something, they should say something.
“We want (the community) to feel safe where they live and where they go to school … sometimes if someone is unapproachable, you may not necessarily say something if you see something,” Torres said. “We want them to know that we are just like them, we just put a uniform on.”
Cravero said that the song the department lip synced, High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco, was chosen for a reason.
“One of the biggest things with the song that we chose was the lyrics being ‘High Hopes,’ that is kind of what we ran with,” Cravero said. “In police work and with first responders, you have got to have high hopes for the job that we do and have high hopes for our community too.”
In the video, viewers will see all sorts of police units — vehicles, bikes and even a marine unit.
“We wanted to show our interaction with the community as well as showcase our department,” Cravero said. “We wanted to show the world that we are here.”
Cravero said the department uses the marine unit to aid other local departments with the Gasparilla weekend events, as well as other tasks throughout the year.
The entire process of planning, shooting and producing the video took roughly six weeks, Cravero said. Just shooting the video took roughly two weeks by itself, because not all of the officers featured in it are on the same schedules. Torres added that some officers came in during their days off to accommodate the plan.
Members from Innovative Education shot, produced and directed the video, Clarke said.
Cravero added that doing the videos brought a lot of laughs to her and her peers, as well as allowed them the opportunity to engage with students, some even by happenstance.
She said that one student was asked to be in the video and said he could do a backflip. Then, another student saw it and he too said he could do a backflip. Which is how the double backflip in unison came to be in the video.
Torres said that above all else, he has high hopes that viewers will vote for UP to go one to the top 10 of the competition and that this likely won’t be the last of community-engaging activities the department participates in.
“Who knows, we might throw a concert for USF next year,” Torres joked. “It seems like a trend now. We did an internal video last year that was for our Christmas party and we did this one this year, so what’s for next year? We don’t even know yet.”