What started as a couple of videos posted by two bored New Jersey high school students has blossomed into a good-natured contest with police departments creating their own dance videos and challenging other departments to do the same.

Police in Hopkins and Eagan were among the first in Minnesota to create videos that show officers with their groove on, dubbed Running Man Challenge. Eagan then posed a challenge to Shakopee, which posted its video on June 1, and in turn Shakopee threw the ball over to Bloomington.

“We joke about how bad our dancing was in our video,” said Janna Wood, Shakopee Police Department crime prevention specialist. “We picked Bloomington because we know they have a great video program.”

Bloomington, not a department to back down from any challenge, took the bait. Last week, it posted its response with a video incorporating more than 30 of the city’s finest men and women in blue boogying on the front lawn of City Hall.

Augmenting the dance moves are images with hazy pink smoke that show the city’s bomb squad, firefighters, military vehicles and officers on Segways outside of the Mall of America. The 3-minute, 29-second video includes appearances by McGruff the Crime Dog and the McDonald’s Hamburglar.

The video became an internet sensation, with more than 150,000 views by Monday evening.

“I’m glad it was well received,” saidDeputy Chief Mike Hartley. “This is not a daily occurrence, but this was good for our department. It’s created some great internal talk.”

Hartley says he hopes the video — shot during employees’ lunch break — will show that there is a gentle side to police officers and help change the perception of those who have seen police in an unfavorable light. “We look at this as a form of community outreach just like stopping at a Little League game,” he said.

The contest, #runningmanchallenge, started earlier this year when students Jerry Hall and Kevin Vincent posted variations of videos of them running to the 1990s hit song called “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s. The videos picked up traction and spread to college athletes doing the same, and eventually to the NFL and the NBA.

Police departments got into the act in New Zealand, and from there it grew into a worldwide dance war among departments, Wood said.

“You’re supposed to make one and then challenge somebody else,” Wood said. “I think the community has liked seeing it. I think it’s fun, and people like seeing police act human.”

Bloomington issued challenges to Burnsville and Prior Lake to create videos. Police in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, along with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, also have created videos

Watch Bloomington’s video at tinyurl.com/bloomington-cops.