A Kansas police department has apologized after a Father’s Day tweet on their account encouraged families to turn in dads with outstanding arrest warrants.
On Sunday morning, the Topeka Police Department published a tweet asking for families to give their dads a day “they’ll never forget” by turning them into the department if they were wanted for crimes.
“Does your child’s father have warrants?” the tweet read, according to a screenshot taken by Twitter user @starblankets_. “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 Topeka Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
According to the Kansas City Star, the tweet was removed from the department’s page within an hour of its posting and was heavily criticized by their followers for being insensitive.
“That’s truly disgusting! Who thought that was a good idea?” wrote Twitter user Kim Baum. “Deleting the message is not enough! An apology and serious community outreach is required to begin to make up for this!”
“It’s funny for the whole 3 seconds before you realize how horrible it is,” another user replied.
Some others, though, tried to defend the department for their “obvious sarcasm” behind the tweet.
On Monday, the department posted an apology to their page, saying the tweet was meant to be “humorous and light-hearted.”
“Yesterday a member of our social media team tweeted on the official TPD Twitter account. The tweet was meant to be humorous and light-hearted but was hurtful to some,” their statement read. “After realizing this, the tweet was quickly deleted. We would like to sincerely apologize for this mistake.”
The department went on to call the blowback to the tweet a “learning experience.”
“This will be a learning experience and goes to show that words, even when intended to be humorous, can be hurtful to others,” they continued. “Thank you to all who reached out, letting us know how you felt.”
Despite the apology, some Twitter users weren’t so quick to let them off the hook, implying the department likely meant what was said in their original tweet.
Apologies accepted, I hope though that your staff and officers are aware of the pain and suffering of Dad's who are forcefully alienated from their children. No Fathersday for them. They line between being a happy parent and no parent is very thin, it can also happen to you.— #IkOok (@Keivaneenpapa) June 18, 2019
“I cannot imagine how humor was intended. I can, however, easily imagine how it was intended to be just what it was— hateful, disparaging, and sickening,” a user said in reply to the department’s statement. “Fire yourself if you thought it was light and humorous.”
Others, though, appreciated the apology but expanded on why they felt the tweet was hurtful.
“Apologies accepted, I hope though that your staff and officers are aware of the pain and suffering of Dad’s who are forcefully alienated from their children,” wrote one user. “No Fathers Day for them. [The] line between being a happy parent and no parent is very thin, it can also happen to you.”