The official New Zealand Police Twitter account has issues an apology after tweeting a Steve Carrell meme about informing family members of road fatalities.
“When we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash,” the tweet read.
It was accompanied by a photo of comedy actor Steve Carell smiling, captioned: “This is the worst”.
Earlier, NZ police had urged drivers to drive responsibly on the roads following the death of nine people in crashes over the weekend.
The “insensitive”, joking tweet, which was deleted within a couple of minutes of being posted, received widespread backlash on social media.
Staggering that anyone even considered tweeting that, let alone searched for the meme, drafted the tweet & then shared with the world!
— Scott Warren (@scott___warren) October 9, 2017
A group of teenage boys who lost their friend to a fatal car crash on Boxing Day last year told Radio New Zealand that they thought the tweet was “pretty messed up”.
“They just meme-ed someone’s death,” the boys said.
Police deputy chief executive Karen Jones said the tweet was “quickly deleted after we realised the imagery was wrong and insensitive”.
“We feel terrible about this mistake, as we put victims at the heart of what police do,” Ms Jones said in a statement.
“We are extremely sorry and will learn from this.”
She said social media was “a hugely important channel” and police appreciated the prompt feedback from the community, “who pointed out the inappropriateness of the tweet”.
Ms Jones added: “We got it wrong”.
“There are well-meaning people behind us who are absolutely distraught because they come to work to try to raise these kinds of issues in a sensitive way and it was the wrong call.”
The NZ Police account also tweeted an apology.