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How Middletown reacted to its national exposure on ‘Lip Sync to the Rescue’

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 5:00 AM

Middletown’s video attracted the attention of country music group Lady Antebellum, whose song “Need You Now” is lip synced by Middletown Police (courtesy of the department and Average Joe Films).

Middletown Police Detective Brandon Highley probably spoke for those who watched the CBS special “Lip Sync to the Rescue” on Monday night in Middletown High School’s Wade E. Miller Gym.

Highley, one of the stars in Middletown’s music video, said he was “tickled to death” that Middletown placed fifth in the nationwide competition that drew more than 1,000 videos from police and fire departments in the United States and Canada.

The video, shot and produced by Average Joe Films, a Middletown company, brought national positive attention to the department and the city and was supported by Lady Antebellum, the country group that sang “Need You Now.” In the video, Middletown police department personnel played off police officers’ love of doughnuts.

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The video had more than 2.4 million views the first 24 hours it was online and has since gained more than 10 million total views.

MORE: Middletown police place 5th on CBS show ‘Lip Sync to the Rescue’

It also brought police and community relations to “a whole new level,” said Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan, who was one of about 100 people who gathered to watch the show on four large screens.

He said the video created “a lot of positive feelings and vibes.”

Middletown police lip sync video places fifth in national competition

Lady Antebellum was so impressed by the video the band invited members of the police department to attend its concert at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. In the days after the video debuted, Middletown police officers said dozens of doughnuts were delivered to the department as far away as France.

As the countdown to the top two videos started on the show, the crowd cheered as videos other than the Middletown police’s were announced. When host Cedric the Entertainer said No. 5 was from Ohio, many in the crowd cheered, though they were disappointed Middletown didn’t place higher.

MORE: Middletown police to be featured on national CBS lip sync show

According to CBS, more than 1,000 lip sync videos were submitted before it was culled to the Top 30 following a Twitter vote. The Top 10 were selected following another Twitter vote.

Norfolk, Va. Police won the competition and the $100,000 first-place prize, and Seattle, Wash. Police was second, winning $50,000. In the initial countdown, Seattle placed first, but after the online balloting Monday before the show ended, Norfolk police was top choice by voters on Twitter.

MORE: ‘I never expected this’: The story behind Middletown’s viral police lip sync video

“We’re not complaining and they mentioned (on the show) it had 2.4 million hits just in the first 24 hours,” said police chief Rodney Muterspaw. “For us to get that, it’s really an honor. And it’s hard to beat the big cities.”

Judy Thorn, who attended the viewing with her husband, Bill, said she was “thrilled” Middletown placed fifth despite competing against much larger departments.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I’m tickled. Every little bit of positivity helps.”

Courtney Roberts said her 9-year-old daughter, Hayleigh, watched the video about 5,000 times.

“I liked it,” Hayleigh said while eating popcorn at the event.

“I thought it was hilarious,” her mother said.

MORE: Middletown police were just trying to connect with their community on Facebook. Then they went national.

Another Middletown resident, Pat Thomas, said the video showed the city “in a positive way.”

Middletown police also received a social media shout out from Lady Antebellum, who said, “Y’all crushed it.”

The video was shot by Average Joe Films and produced and shot by Middletown native Joseph Cox, 25, with assistance from Haydn “Wolfie” Koeller, 24. Cox said the video was shot in about six hours and his company donated its services. Shooting began at 10 a.m., and 12 hours later, the video was finished. Muterspaw recognized Cox and Koeller with a plaque before the show started.

Those in attendance were fed popcorn and doughnuts donated from Central Pastry and Milton’s.

Here’s the Top 10 from “Lip Sync to the Rescue” and populations of the areas they serve

1. Norfolk Police, Norfolk, Va., 245,724

2. Seattle Police, Seattle, Wash., 744,955

3. Saskatoon Police, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 256,612

4. Paris Fire Department, Paris, Texas, 24,839

5. Middletown Police, Middletown, Ohio, 48,861

6. California Highway Patrol, State of California, 39.5 million

7. Salt Lake City Police, Salt Lake City, Utah, 200,591

8. Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County, Calif., 850,967

9. North Branford Police, North Branford, Conn., 14,158

10. Skokie Police, Skokie, Ill., 63,978

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Canada Population 2018