York City Police chief addresses Maple Donuts video controversy

Staff report

York City Police Chief Troy Bankert released a statement Friday, Aug. 31, acknowledging the controversy surrounding a lip sync video featuring officers and Maple Donuts and saying the subject will be discussed in upcoming "sensitivity training."

The video, meant to raise money for the city police department, was filmed and published last week as a part of a national fundraising phenomenon that has taken social media by storm.

The city police department's video featured Maple Donuts, a conservative business known for its pro-Trump ads and controversial billboards, including one that referenced NFL protests and stated "Maple Donuts takes a stand not a knee."

York Mayor Michael Helfrich told the York NAACP at a meeting Tuesday that he said "hell no" when the video idea was proposed two weeks earlier.

The Democratic mayor, who ran as a Republican last November, said he opposed the idea of including the "divisive" company in the video not for political reasons but in fear that it would associate the department with the company's beliefs.

"I have no problem with an independent company doing what they want with their advertising," Helfrich said. "But when it becomes associated with the police department, we're getting in a dangerous area."

York City Police Chief Troy Bankert is surrounded by family after he accepted the position during a police ceremony at York City Hall Monday, June 11, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

However his "hell no" was never relayed to Bankert through the mayor's chief of staff, Philip Given, he said. 

At Tuesday's NAACP meeting, Helfrich said the chief told him he had no idea that the Maple Donuts collaboration would present an issue with the community.

The mayor attributed Bankert's response to a "lack of cultural competence" and a "knowledge gap" regarding minority city residents' concern.

The police chief released this statement Friday afternoon:

"I authorized York City Police Officers to create a video in response to a lip sync challenge. The video was a parody involving cops and doughnuts, intending to portray our officers in a light hearted and approachable manner. I now understand that members of our community were offended by an association with Maple Donuts, which resulted in the Mayor cancelling the release of the video. Prior to the video being created, we had sensitivity training scheduled for November, which will include this incident as a discussion topic. We continue to be committed to working with all members of our community and fostering a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation."

In response to the video, the York NAACP recommended diversity and cultural sensitivity training for York City department heads.

It also recommended the city:

  • Institute community conversations when encountering issues, plans, productions, and/or contracts with a potential impact on the community; 
  • Maintain control over any and all media products involving York City departments; and 
  • Assure accountability in the execution of policies, procedures and protocols in all future actions.