Opinion: TPD Father’s Day Tweet

Joelle Conway

Serve and Protect?

The Topeka Police Department posted an offensive tweet on Father’s Day, June 16. The tweet read, “Does your child’s father have warrants? Is he carrying around any drugs? Has he been committing any crimes? Want to give him a Father’s Day he’ll never forget? Call TPD and we’ll help your family make a memory that will last a lifetime.”

The tweet was later deleted and an apology tweet was posted. The apology screen-shot read, “Yesterday a member of our social media team tweeted on the official TPD Twitter account. The tweet was meant to be humourous and light-hearted, but was hurtful to some. After realizing this, the tweet was quickly deleted. We would like to sincerlely apologize for this mistake. This will be a learning experience and goes to show that words, even when intended to be humorous, can be hurtful to others. Thank you to all who reached out, letting us know how you felt.”

Many expressed their concern for the tweet on the Twitter page. The tweet has received national and state-wide criticism. Fox News, Newsweek and US News are just a few national media platforms who have reported on the tweet.

Encouraging not just people, but family members, to report their family to the police on a day that is meant for celebration is distasteful to some.

There are neglectful, absent and sub-standard fathers who do more harm than good to their children. Parents who believe their child to be abused by anybody should report such to child protective services. Perhaps instead of making a joke out of the situation many face, TPD should have included the child protective services hotline or offered assistance in a serious manner to those who suspect their child to be abused or neglected.

Not all fathers deserve the respect of their children or even the TPD, but the TPD should be finding ways to build bridges between families who really need help in thoughtful and supportive ways. Reminding kids with less than stellar fathers about these shortcomings on Father’s Day seems mean-spirited and unnecessary.

The past few years have seen a strain on the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve. TPD missed an opportunity to encourage and lift up the good fathers in our community.

Further, perhaps the TPD should consider what it is like for families to have detectives digging through their private lives or even worse to be falsely accused of a crime.

This tweet is insensitive to those who have had a family member taken from their home by law enforcement, especially on a day meant for happiness or celebration. It was created in ignorance to what it is like to witness a family member (or be the one) who law enforcement treats with unnecessary disrespect, brutality or harshness. There are also many people who have witnessed a family member or loved one be killed by law enforcement.

TPD has seen lawsuits against them for alleged excessive, unnecessary force used in an unwarranted situations, the community needs to do its part as well. Stronger communication between the Topeka community and the police department is needed moving forward. Personally, I’m tired of Topeka being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps it’s time for someone new to step into TPD leadership and get this community on the right track.

I think Topeka residents deserve and should demand a police department that enforces laws in an equal and consistent manner. One that is not driven by stereotypes and one that remembers that not all residents feel comfortable or even safe in the presence of police, which is unacceptable.

Topeka has crime problems it needs to solve, and more work needs to be done to partner key public shareholders from all Topeka neighborhoods with a competent, well-trained and consistent police force. If the current leadership can’t deliver, it’s time for a change.

To those reading this: encourage our local police department to better itself. We cannot fight hate with hate, but rather encouragement and hopefulness of change. Discuss the departments mistakes until they are handled appropriately and fixed for the future. Too many times these so-called scandals get swept under the rug. Change comes from continuing to talk and push for reform. Being silent solves nothing.

Not every police officer in the TPD reacts with unnecessary force or disrespect. There are good women and men within the department who do wonderful work for our community. I thank those men and women for their dedication to the community and for serving us well. Do not let one bad egg influence the judgement of the whole carton.

Edited by Adam White