A YouTube spoof on the folly of stereotype-driven police profiling has sparked a City of West Covina, Calif., investigation of how the municipal employees in the roughly two-minute video gained use of actual police uniforms and police cars, and whether they were shooting real bullets from inside the vehicles, ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles has reported.
"We're wasting our time dealing with these goofs that wasted our resources and our equipment doing this," said West Covina Mayor Pro Tem Michael Touhey, adding that he will demand full repayment of the investigation's cost from the filmmaker.
With almost 1 million views, the parody damages the image of West Covina's police department and its city government, officials said
Police Cpl. Rudy Lopez, a department spokesman, said no sworn officers were among the video's six actors -- a multiracial crew of five cops and a white, Starbucks-drinking, biscotti-dunking motorist. With police guns drawn on him, he exits the vehicle, hands in the air and eyes bugged in feigned fright.
City employees were involved in the taping but, at this point in the investigation, remain on the payroll, according to the police spokesman.
"If they weren't sworn officers, they could have been anything from community service officers, the cadets," Lopez said.
Patrick Scott is shown in the credits as director and Nikos Bellas as producer of the piece by Zoochosis.com, a Venice, Calif. production company.
Dismissing city officials' outrage, the company issued a statement on Friday: "This is America and truth will always prevail, unless, of course, lies make a better sound bite."
"Save Miranda," referring to the list of rights against self-incrimination and to a legal counsel that police are required to alert detainees to before questioning, flashes on-screen during the credits.