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Fleeting Wonders: Cop and Teen Face Off in a Dance-Off

A screenshot of the dance-off. (Video: Washington Post/Antwain Bynum)

In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the police who resolve problems by shooting or tackling everyone, and the police who resolve problems with dance-offs. This, for a change, is the story of the latter.

On Monday, a police officer, who has asked not to be identified in the press, was part of a team sent to break up a fight among teens on a D.C. street. But after they stopped the fight, there was still a crowd of spectators hanging around. The officer told the remaining teens to move along–at which point 17-year-old Aaliyah Taylor approached, playing “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” on her phone and doing the appropriate moves.

A lot of police officers would interpret being danced at by a teen as threatening behavior. This officer laughed and said she had better moves–but that if she won the dance-off, the teens had to disperse.

Did she win? Aaliyah Taylor said that she wasn’t really watching–“I mostly hold my head down when I dance, so I didn’t really see her”–but that she was impressed by the video. “I was like ‘Oh, she has some moves.’” Marinos Marinos, secretary of the D.C. police union, pointed out to the Washington Post that if the officer didn’t win, it was probably only because she was wearing 40 pounds of equipment and uniform. (We’ll add that she also didn’t have the natural advantage of being a 17-year-old girl.)

What’s important, though, is that both parties felt like they won. They mutually declared victory, hugged, and the teens left peacefully. And even more importantly, Taylor says this was her first positive experience with a cop. Most of the ones she’s encountered have been unnecessarily forceful and mean.

“I thought all cops were cruel because that’s how I saw them,” she told the Post. “I’ve now seen there are good cops out there.” And she’s even done the Stanky Leg with one.