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Boston police address hack with humor

Boston police show humorous side in video response to ‘Anonymous’

Boston police apparently have a sense of humor.

Days after the notorious hacking group “Anonymous’’ took over its news website, the police department responded with a tongue-in-cheek YouTube video mocking the attack.

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“Normally I sleep pretty well,’’ Deputy Superintendent Colm Lydon says in the video. “But since the site went down, I haven’t slept a wink.’’

The two-minute clip, which was posted to YouTube on Wednesday, features several officers speaking in mock horror about the incident.

“In the days after the hacking,’’ a voiceover says, “fans of the page struggled to make sense of a world without BPDnews.com.’’

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Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the video was created as a lighthearted way to engage the community about what had happened to BPDNews.com.

“It made sense to take the opportunity to present our lighter side to the community, to show that we, too, have a sense of humor,’’ Driscoll said, “which people aren’t often accustomed to from law enforcement, so it can be confusing.’’

Indeed, there has been much confusion about the video; commenters on YouTube ranged from impressed to dismayed. “Good to see a sense of humor,’’ one wrote, while another called the video “scary.’’

“These are the people that are supposed to be out in the streets fighting crime,’’ the person wrote.

The video riffs on the original hacking, which took place on Feb. 3. The news releases and photos that normally make up BPDNews.com - which is known for occasionally mixing silly headlines in with what is often grim news - were replaced by a message from Anonymous criticizing the department’s handling of the Occupy Boston demonstration. The hackers also included the music video for the 1993 song “Sound of da Police’’ by the rapper KRS-One, which include lyrics that criticize police oppression.

The Boston police video also samples heavily from the music video, and features Deputy Superintendent William Gross lamenting: “Why would anyone want to destroy a perfectly good KRS-One song?’’

Driscoll said the target audience for the video was not “Anonymous,’’ but the community that may not know about BPDNews.com. “This was not a response to them,’’ she said.

Still, some wondered whether the video will simply antagonize “Anonymous,’’ a loose collective of activist computer hackers who are believed to be responsible for digital mischief around the world.

The video seems to acknowledge the possibility when the narrator says, “A future disruption is by no means out of the question.’’

As the Boston police video began its march across the Internet, it has attracted raised eyebrows from many who do not expect such lighthearted behavior from what is normally a very buttoned-down organization.

“Wow, who knew the BPD had this type of swag?’’ Dave Portnoy wrote on the controversial humor website Barstool Sports. “I had no idea the Boston Police had this type of game. I may have to start checking out BPD.com[sic] on the regular if this is how they do it. I got a fever, and the only prescription is more BPD.com[sic]!’’

Yesterday at the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, a community center in Fields Corner, a dozen teenagers gathered around a computer to watch the attempt at humor.

Some shook their heads. Others chuckled. Most respected the attempt.

“It’s kinda clever,’’ James Chang said.

“I like the fact that they’re being melodramatic about it,’’ Tung Mai added. “But the acting was pretty flat.’’

Billy Baker can be reached at billybaker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.
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