Santa Ana city councilman Johnathan Hernandez was at home around 11pm on a recent Monday when he heard the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” blaring through his residential neighborhood. That was followed by “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Reflection.” One thing the songs all had in common: they were tunes from Disney movies. Hernandez went to investigate and learned the noise was being broadcast from the PA system of nearby police cruiser. "It was eerie, and it was discomforting," Hernandez later told local ABC7 News.
According to the Washington Post, when Hernandez asked why they were playing Disney music, an officer cited "copyright infringement” and pointed to a nearby citizen who was recording the scene in which police were investigating a car theft. The implication was that officers hoped playing the copyrighted showtunes would somehow keep the video off social media. After being confronted by Hernandez and other agitated, confused residents, the Santa Ana officer apologized to Hernandez at the scene. The citizen—who is known to local police—was conducting a “police audit,” in which an activist records police activity to provide accountability in case of civil rights violations.
Per local CBS4, the increasingly common practice “is legal, but can sometimes be antagonistic toward police, and [is] generally unpopular among officers.” Also, per the Post, this is not the first example of the police strategy. Last summer, an officer in Oakland blasted a Taylor Swift single hoping to thwart nearby activists. That clip ended up going viral; the latest Disney-themed attempt might also, as it is still on YouTube. In a statement, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin said the department is investigating the officers' conduct in the April 4 incident. "My expectation is that all police department employees perform their duties with dignity and respect in the community we are hired to serve." (Read more police audit stories.)