When did Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine know he'd truly gone viral?
When one of his former players from his days of coaching high school basketball told him he was on the WorldStarHipHop Instagram page.
"I've been getting messages all weekend ... one of the funniest messages I got was from one of the kids I used to coach who is now in college, and he sent me a text last night saying, 'Coach, you're too old to know how awesome it is that your video made WorldStar.' And he's right. I have no idea what that is," Perrine laughed Monday morning. "But to that younger generation, that's big stuff. And it's kind of cool that I'm able to tap into that younger generation with a simple video."
As of Monday morning, Perrine's original lighthearted clip urging motorists to use their turn signals that went live early Friday had been viewed more than 11.4 million times on Facebook. That doesn't include the millions of other views pouring in from all of the other sites that have shared it, including the more than 1.2 million times it has been viewed on the aforementioned WorldStarHipHop account.
In the video that runs just more than a minute, Perrine jokingly talks about an "incredible safety feature" with the power to also quell road rage. Then he proceeds to tell people about the tried-and-true turn signal, something that many drivers neglect when switching lanes or making turns.
One of the best lines in the clip comes about halfway through when he warns people that to use the turn signal, they have to put down their cellphone or coffee.
He said the idea to do the video has been in his head for a while, and with Friday being such a beautiful day, he decided to grab his smartphone and start recording on a whim. Days later, the views on his spur-of-the-moment post keep rolling in from around the globe.
"I never expected it to go far," Perrine said. "So it's been pretty incredible, and what I've learned is that this appears to be a problem not only in the United States, but around the world. I've gotten feedback and messages from China, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. A lot of people in the U.K. have reached out ... and its pretty incredible to see that. I hit a sensitive topic and I think a lot of people can relate."
The video is just the latest social media win for Perrine, who became the District 52 (Indianapolis) Public Information Office about a year ago. He recently talked to IndyStar about his fire emoji game and how it has inspired other area first responders. He gives much of the credit for his online approach to a host of great mentors, but he has created his own unique voice on Facebook and Twitter.
Perrine said that his honest and sometimes humorous approach has led to the forging of stronger bonds between himself and members of the community. In his opinion, that connection will lead to safer communities in the long run.
His goal is to show citizens that he, and all other officers of the law, are real people, people you can trust and approach like you would any other person.
"When I took this PIO job, it was important for me to create and improve the bond that police officers have with their communities, and I think that by showing the human side of this job, I've accomplished that," he said. "And it is really neat when I meet people and they don't recognize me from any of the work that I've done in the media. They say, 'Hey, you're the Twitter guy!' And that means a lot to me because that means my messages are getting out there and being recognized."
The craziest part about the seemingly overnight spread of the video? The clip almost didn't get posted.
"After I filmed it, I brought it in and showed a couple of other sergeants who were here at the post, and one said he didn't think it was the right message because he felt it was a little condescending," he said. "Another sergeant said, 'That's great. Put it out there. It's hilarious!'"
In the end, the approval and excitement from ISP Capt. Dave Bursten and his commander, Lt. Jeff Payne, made the publication of the clip possible.
New videos are very possible, but Perrine said he has no plans of making something forced to ride his current viral wave.
"I've gotten a lot of suggestions for videos people want to see next, but it has got to be something that comes form the heart, and I think that was what made the video what it is. I was speaking as just a human being," he said. "I am a police officer, but I didn't say anything that most people don't think."
Follow Justin L. Mack on Twitter: @justinlmack
(© 2017 Indianapolis Star)