A Victoria Police spokesperson got a taste of online celebrity Thursday when he sparked a discussion about marijuana on Reddit.
When Const. Mike Russell saw someone on the VictoriaBC subreddit asking where to buy pot at the University of Victoria, he saw an opportunity to start a conversation.
“I thought it was pertinent to chime in and remind them that the cops are kind of everywhere,” he said.
“Scram! It’s the Fuzz!” replied one user, and the conversation took off from there. The thread quickly made it to the front page of the popular site, and had nearly 1,000 comments and 700 up-votes before 1 p.m. PST.
“I should get a badge of honour,” Russell joked.
Rather than just remind users that the long arm of the law extends online, Russell decided to spend some time with the Reddit community. He talked about his job, espoused the “discretion” VicPD officers use when they find small amounts of marijuana, and even managed to go toe to toe with a few of the site’s infamous trolls.
When one user told him to “Get the f*** off my Reddit,” Russell replied, saying, “Wow, you invented Reddit. Too cool. It’s an honour to meet you.”
Russell is responsible for most of the VicPD’s social media accounts, and even though he’s new to Reddit, he says the key to success is to stay positive and have a sense of humour.
“Cops are humans, too,” he said. “It helps if people can see we don’t take ourselves that seriously all the time.”
One of the Victoria subreddit’s moderators agrees.
“He handled it like a pro,” said James Miller, a.k.a. XavierWoodshed. “It’s the humour of it. If he had showed any form of authority, he would have received a different — and probably negative — response.”
Many users in the initial thread asked Const. Russell to do a Reddit AMA. Short for “Ask Me Anything,” the forums are one of Reddit’s most popular features and involve people taking questions from users. A number of celebrities, ranging from Korean pop sensation PSY to U.S. President Barack Obama have done AMAs.
“I asked him to do an AMA when he first showed up, but after what happened today, it would go over even better,” said Miller.
Russell says he’s hoping to arrange an AMA in the coming weeks, provided he can find the time.
“I think I’m going to, but I’m a little bit nervous,” he said.