'Sincerely apologize': Peoria police remove recruitment ad based on violent video game

The Peoria Police Department removed a recruiting ad from social media Tuesday night after complaints that the ad may have glorified violence against civilians.

The ad referenced Call of Duty, the popular first-person shooter video game series, calling on prospective recruits to "stop playing games and answer the call of duty" by joining the police department. Above the text, three white police officers are brandishing guns.

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Commenters on various social media sites called the ad "tone deaf," criticizing the overt militarization and the violent implications. On Facebook, Dusti Moultrie, an administrator of a public page dedicated to the investigation of the 2017 disappearance of Alexis Scott, posted that she was "disgusted" with the ad.

"Literally aiming guns, but telling the children to put the guns down while you have ALL WHITE MEN POINTING THEIRS…AT WHOM(?)" Moultrie said. "(I) guess that's why Alexis is still missing(.)"

Police Chief Eric Echevarria apologized Wednesday in a statement to the Journal Star, noting that the ad was intended for younger audiences and that the department strives to bring in the most qualified recruits in a respectful way.

"It was never my intention to offend any of our community members with the recruitment flyer that was posted on our Facebook page yesterday," Echevarria said. "It was simply a recruitment image I thought would appeal and connect to a younger generation. I take ownership of this, and I sincerely apologize. Our goal is to recruit the best and most qualified officers for this police department in the most caring and respectful way."

The department does have a recruitment ad up on social media targeted at potential female recruits, combined with a video showing a group of diverse women officers going about their jobs and supporting their families.

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This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Peoria police chief 'sincerely' apologizes for Facebook post