WINDHAM, Maine — On Thursday, when Officer Ernest MacVane of the Windham Police Department got a report that there were some angry cows on the loose attacking vehicles, he decided he’d make the best of the unusual emergency call.
“I don’t care who you are. That’s a funny thing,” the officer told the BDN Saturday afternoon. “Of course there’s nothing I can do as a police officer to deal with cows. I just grabbed my cellphone and made a video of it.”
He made the short video to show to his 10-year-old son and to give his co-workers a chuckle. In it, MacVane jokes about having to handle a possible “mad cow” situation and tells the two bovines to step over to the side of the road and put their hands up in the air. When one of the curious cows instead appears to sniff at a bottle of Pinnacle Vodka it found in the country road, he tells them to leave it alone.
“That’s booze,” he says to the cows, who clearly are not listening to him. “Leave it alone. It’s not good for you.”
When the officer got back to the station and showed the video to his supervisors, they did get a chuckle out of the absurd situation, and thought that the police department’s Facebook fans would get a kick out of it too.
“And the rest is history,” MacVane joked.
In just a couple of days, the video has gone viral, being viewed well over half a million times by Saturday afternoon. The story clearly tickled people’s funny bones, inspiring what seem like countless cow puns, and was even picked up by the national newsmagazine program Inside Edition.
“I think it’s great,” MacVane said. “It’s really giving folks the chance to see that we’re people too.”
The lighthearted moment seems especially important to share this summer, he said, when the nation has been rocked by reports of fatal police shootings and by reports of police officers getting shot and killed in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. MacVane said that his encounter with the rogue cows may appeal to people who would like to see something upbeat that involves police.
“Our citizens, not just in Windham but around the country, are starving for a positive, personal relationship with police,” he said. “We’re very lucky in Windham. We have a strong police chief. He wants us out of our cars. He wants us interacting with citizens. At the end of the day, the more we interact with citizens, the safer we’ll be.”
He said that the funny video may actually have helped him Saturday afternoon when he responded to a report of a family that was having some problems.
“One of the parties involved recognized me from the cow video,” MacVane said. “It immediately defused the anxiety. As soon as they put it together that I was the cow wrangler, she immediately opened up to us and shared with us what was going on.”
His department certainly isn’t going out in search of funny scenarios to share with the world, he said, but when they happen, it can be serendipitous.
“We’ve humanized the uniform, and I love it,” MacVane said.