It was the moment days of rehearsal finally paid off for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Heischuber.
“I would like to take this moment to provide you with a public service announcement,” the law enforcement officer said to a Signal camera crew.
Four of Heischuber’s comrades stood in plain clothes, frozen a few yards behind him.
The crew, standing in the driveway of a loaned Graham Lane home in Plum Canyon, were fulfilling the roles of criminals in public safety announcement.
In the video, Heischuber works to dissuade county residents from making simple mistakes that often lead them to become victims of petty theft.
The concept, known as the Mannequin Challenge, is a viral social media-based campaign used to draw attention to a cause or message. Participants are frozen in time as the camera dollies around them, providing a 360-degree look at the moment.
The Santa Clarita station’s participation was the brainchild of Public Information Officer Shirley Miller, who was inspired by a similar act executed by Montebello Police.
On Nov. 15, the police department, located about 35 miles southeast of Santa Clarita, hit the social media waves with a video led by Montebello Community Relations Sgt. Marc Marty.
Marty leads the audience through a scenario involving a holiday shopper falling victim to a slick thief. Miller
“I thought that (the deputies) would be reluctant to participate,” Miller said.
But to the spokeswoman’s surprise, a warm excitement roared throughout the station which spurred Heischuber to take on the role of organizer.
The team of deputies and civilians partnered with The Signal to assemble the video to be released on all local outlets.
The video is one of many ways Miller has worked to reach out to the community using the internet and more specifically, social media.
“Social media is an invaluable tool for our station,” the spokeswoman said.
“It allows us to connect with the public on many different levels.”
Since taking on the role of disseminating police information to media outlets and the public, Miller has expanded and augmented the amount of crime tips and emergency information released from the station’s Facebook, Twitter and Nixle accounts.
“Unlike traditional media like newspapers, social media has the ability to be updated minute-by-minute which is crucial when there is emergency incidents,” Miller said.
And the local reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
“The public, because of social media, has also aided many of our criminal investigations through their tips,” Miller added.
One example of that is a series of posts made to Facebook inquiring about the location of a wanted suspect.
“Through the many shares of the post, we are usually able to locate the individual because of tips submitted,” Miller said.
Overall, Miller hopes to expose the community to a different side of law enforcement by providing a unique behind-the-scenes look at the daily lives of the uniformed individuals tasked with protecting the Santa Clarita Valley’s citizens.
The mannequin challenge looks to certainly do just that.
The video will be released by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in the coming days.