Police sorry for crash death tweet

A tweet posted by the New Zealand police and later deleted after a weekend of nine road fatalities. Photograph: Twitter
A tweet posted by the New Zealand police and later deleted after a weekend of nine road fatalities. Photograph: Twitter

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “New Zealand police apologise for tweeting joke about road deaths” was written by Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin, for theguardian.com on Monday 9th October 2017 07.14 UTC

New Zealand police have been forced to apologise for posting a tweet that appeared to make light of informing family members their relative had been killed in a car crash.

On Monday the New Zealand police posted a gif image of comedian Steve Carell from the US version of The Office with a slight grin on his face. The text on the picture read: “This is the worst!”

“When we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash”, the police wrote above the gif.

The tweet was immediately described as “tone-deaf” and insensitive by social media users in New Zealand.

The New Zealand police deleted the tweet a short time later, and issued a follow-up apology on Twitter, admiting the original tweet had been “wrong & insensitive”.

Karen Jones, from New Zealand police public affairs unit, said in a statement the imagery of the original tweet was off.

“We feel terrible about this mistake,” she said.

“We appreciated the prompt feedback we got from members of our community who pointed out the inappropriateness of the tweet. We are extremely sorry.”

The tweet came after a bad weekend of road crashes on New Zealand roads.

Before the tweet, New Zealand police released a statement regarding the rising number of road deaths in the country, saying nine people had died between Friday and the early hours of Monday morning, bringing the 2017 total to 292 road deaths – up 41 on the same time last year.

The assistant commissioner of road policing, Sandra Venables, said families had been left devastated.

“We cannot continue to tolerate the loss,” Venables said, and added that although it was too early to release details, speed, fatigue, losing control and crossing the centre line were all factors in the deadly crashes.

The New Zealand police have drawn global attention previously for a savvy use of social media, including challenging police forces around the world to a dance-off, in which officers from Australia, the US and Scotland took part.

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Myrddin Gwynedd

Myrddin Gwynedd

Journalism Tutor at NZ Radio Training School
Myrddin Gwynedd is an award-winning writer who hails from Wales. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his partner and an army of felines.
Myrddin Gwynedd