Durham Police Are Investigating A "Repulsive" Drawing Shared In A Facebook Group (PHOTO)
With the caption "My Dad is my hero."
An Ontario police service has found itself in hot water after a picture described as racially insensitive was shared in a closed Facebook group of their ex-officers. The picture has been taken down at the request of the Durham Regional Police chief. The children's drawing, shared in a group of ex-officers on the social media site, shows two police personnel with white faces pinning down a man illustrated with a brown face.
It's all smiles on the faces in the drawing, which shows one officer pointing a gun at the man while pinning him down. Another policeman holds a stick that looks like it is about to hit the man on the ground.
"My dad is my hero," is written in child-like scrawl across the picture, which was posted in “Durham Regional Police Friends,” a private Facebook group.
The picture has since been removed.
DRPS Chief Paul Martin called the image "repulsive."
"We've worked so hard as a police service to reach out to our community and to create a sense of inclusion, not only within the service but in the community. It's offensive. It's repulsive," says Martin, who appeared on the verge of tears, according to CBC.
Chief Martin also says he is concerned about how this picture will affect the service's reputation within the community.
"Think of the reaction of some of my own members and some of the reactions from the community."
"In some respects, you think you have made such headway. Then something like this comes along and you go: 'What are people thinking?' It is disappointing to an incredible level. I apologize."
The man who allegedly posted the photo told the Toronto Star he thought it was “humorous” and “cute” and “something that struck my funny bone for a second.”
He reportedly said he didn’t notice the dark colouring of the head in the picture and thought they were just stick figures.
“There will be no apology from me,” he added.
Per the Toronto Star, Martin said the Facebook group was “mainly retired members of the service.”
However, according to Durham Radio News, some officers who are currently on the force are also part of the group.
In the picture, other stick figures are holding a small box in their hands.
While it's not obvious what these boxes are supposed to be, they may be the bystanders' phones as they are filming the incident.
The professional standards unit is investigating to see if current employees had any part in sharing or liking the Facebook post, says CBC.
The reaction from the community to the shared image has been largely one of fury and disgust.
Sandra Forsythe with the Durham Community Action Group spoke with Durham Radio News and says they need to be held accountable.
“They need to know that this is not funny,” said Forsythe. “Black parents are terrified of the police. We send our children out there and you’re terrified."
“You pray, every minute you’re calling them ... Nobody should live like that ... It’s disgusting, it’s disdain, it’s like all the progress we have made in a few years, it has sent us right back.”
Narcity has reached out to Durham Regional Police for comment.