The Santa Ana Police Department is investigating after video was released of one of its officers blaring copyrighted music in an attempt to thwart a YouTuber who was recording him.
Residents of a Santa Ana neighborhood were awoken to the sounds of police cars, a helicopter and something else they didn’t expect: Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
It happened around 11 p.m. Monday in a residential neighborhood on the 1600 block of West Civic Center Drive.
Neighbors who came out to find the source of the commotion, were shocked to see the loud Disney music wasn’t coming from an annoying neighbor, but from a police car.
Alma Guzman was visiting her mom when she heard the unexpected noise.
“The police came, I guess there was a stolen vehicle,” she told KTLA. “Then the Disney music started playing. I didn’t know why.”
The video was apparently recorded by a YouTuber conducting what are called police audits. Auditing is an online practice of recording interactions with law enforcement officers. The practice is legal, but can sometimes be antagonistic toward police, and are generally unpopular among officers.
A man who identified himself as a city councilmember was seen on the recording scolding an officer. Neighbors said the man was Santa Ana Councilman Jonathan Hernandez.
“Why are you playing this? Disrespectful,” Hernandez is heard saying in the video. As he admonishes the officer, Hernandez implores him to “have some respect for my community.”
Donna Sanchez, another resident in the neighborhood, said she was appreciative that the councilmember spoke up.
“I love Johnathan Hernandez sticking up for us,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s very disrespectful. We have to wake up pretty early.”
Sanchez said the person recording the video wasn’t doing any harm.
The officer told Hernandez and other onlookers that the music was played so that the YouTuber’s video would receive a copyright strike and the audio would be either muted or the video taken down entirely.
The Santa Ana Police Department is investigating that claim and will determine if the officers will face any discipline.
The Santa Ana Police Department released a statement that read in part:
“The Santa Ana police department is aware of a video that has surfaced involving one of our officers. We are committed to serving our community and we understand the concerns as it relates to the video. The Santa Ana police department takes seriously all complaints regarding the service provided by the department and the conduct of its employees. Our department is committed to conducting complete, thorough, and objective investigations. My expectations is that all police department employees perform their duties with dignity and respect in the community we are hired to serve.”Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin
Guzman said the action of the officers was unacceptable. She said she believes people have the right to record the police.
“We should be able to record them without a problem,” Guzman said. She added she didn’t think using copyrighted music was an appropriate response by police.
KTLA reached out to the account where the video was posted but has not yet received a response.
Councilmember Hernandez also did not respond to a request for an interview.