Drunk drivers in the small Canadian town of Kensington are in for a surprise this holiday season.
In a Facebook post warning of the dangers of drunk driving, Constable Robb Hartlen writes, "On top of a hefty fine, a criminal charge and a year's driving suspension, we will also provide you with a bonus gift of playing the office's copy of Nickelback in the cruiser on the way to jail. Now, now, no need to thank us, we figure if you are foolish enough to get behind the wheel after drinking then a little Chad Kroeger and the boys is the perfect gift for you."
Attached with the note is a photo of a sealed cassette tape of Nickelback's 2001 album Silver Side Up along with the closing thoughts: "So please, lets not ruin a perfectly good unopened copy of Nickelback. You don't drink and drive and we won't make you listen to it."
In the week since Hartlem wrote the tongue-in-cheek note, the post has gone viral—receiving comments from both diehard Nickelback defenders who can't believe the police department would poke fun at the Canadian band and a (more sizeable) group of people happy to see a light-hearted, humanizing note from law enforcement in a year full of rising tensions and negative news surrounding police officers.
So, we called Hartlem up during his Wednesday afternoon patrol to hear the story behind the post. See the full original message here and continue reading for our interview with Hartlen.
What originally prompted you to sit down and write the message?
The Facebook page itself hasn't even been open a month yet. The Kensington Police force didn't used to have a social media page, so I took over the social media duties. I was on shift this past Saturday and I wanted to do a drinking and driving message.
The posts on the page so far have had a little twinge of humor but still try to get the message across, so I thought, "How can I break through the cacophony of noise that is 'don't drink and drive?'" because everybody hears it. Every time you turn around, you're just getting slapped with it, but obviously we're missing something. People are tuning out the message, because the numbers are still there—especially in this season.
So, I was like, "How can I do it?" I use humor as a police officer, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend. So, with that, I thought... Chad Kroeger was unfortunately picked up for drunk driving back in the late 2000s—How odd would it have been to be in the cruiser heading back, listening to a Nickelback song? And then I realized, how awkward would it be to have to listen to Nickelback if anybody got caught for a DUI?
Why, specifically, do you think Nickelback is the appropriate musical punishment?
The easiest way to answer that is that the message came first and then I had to figure out the vessel. As anti-climactic as it is, it could have been any of the other bands that everyone else is suggesting. It just happens that Nickelback has such a diverse and polarizing group of fans. You either love Nickelback or you love to hate Nickelback. It's a little tongue-in-cheek, jumping on the bandwagon. But I'll tell you, I've been taking it off the lips from Nickelback fans. They are very fond of Nickelback. And the funny thing is I like Nickelback. And we have a guy on our police force, Brent McDonald, who met his wife at a Nickelback concert.
But I find it interesting that people are so up in arms about me picking Nickelback. They're so angry. But no one is saying anything about the folks who are drinking and driving. So, there's a skewered view of priorities there.
Of all Nickelback albums, why did you go with Silver Side Up on tape?
You basically just go with what you have [laughs]. It's funny, because it's a cassette. It's 2017—I can't even remember the last time I've seen a cassette player. So, that's the visual gag to the audible gag.
Have you guys had to open up the tape and use it yet?
Negative. Hopefully we will never have to. Hopefully in a year down the line I can post again and show that it still survives.
The post has received a lot of attention over the last couple days. What have been some of the most interesting reactions so far?
When I posted the message, we had about 140 people who liked the Facebook page. As of 20 minutes ago, there are 240,000 people who have seen the post. So, we're definitely getting a wide array. The majority of people are saying, "You know what, good on you, man. Thanks for thinking of a different way of getting this message across." And anything to get that message across, we're behind. So, that's fine. And then there's others who say, "How dare you make light of drinking and driving and the severity of intoxication?" And then there's the other group, maybe 10 or 15 percent, who are the diehard Nickelback fans who say, "How dare you? Give back your Canadian card. You can't make fun of Nickelback, we love them and hate you."
Is there anything you would like to clear up about the post in general and your thoughts on drunk driving?
First and foremost, at no time did we mean to malign Nickelback. As I've said, I'm a fan of Nickelback. I know the immeasurable good they've done for their own community behind the scenes. They give back to their fans. It's unbelievable what they've done for their town and their country—and for themselves. All the power to them. I don't think the post would have worked if it was another band. Just because they are so loved and equally so hated. I hope the guys see the humor in it and realize my message isn't: Hate Nickelback. My message is: Hate drinking and driving.