It’s not everyday that a post on police department’s Facebook page gets taken down for violating social media standards.
Members of the Absecon Police Department of New Jersey sparked controversy on their Facebook page after posting a picture of a Ziploc bag of weed and inviting its intended buyer to stop by the station and pick it up.
Deleted by Facebook citing “Community Standards” violations, the post showed a plastic bag of weed bearing the name “Candy Kush” written on it with magic marker.
The post read: “I guess writing ‘oregano’ across the bag would have been too obvious. If you were supposed to buy some Candy Kush this weekend, we have it here at the #Absecon PD. Just stop on down and ask.”
It was thought to be a playful gesture meant to reinforce the fact that marijuana is illegal in New Jersey except for prescribed medicinal purposes.
Before the post was shut down, some readers went along with the joke and praised the cops for having a sense of humor. Some even made offers to buy the weed.
But not everyone was amused.
Other Facebook pages caught the story, and it flew through cyberspace, causing controversy among some, including Cop Block, a diverse group of individuals united by the message that “Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.” They highlight the double standard in which cops often get a break, even when they commit crimes or use excessive violence.
“South Jersey cops think they are being hilarious, in much the same way every bully ever thought they were when they taunt and instigate their victims,” Cop Block wrote.
A website called DankSpace.com picked up the post and shared a screenshot of it with an article lambasting the department for making light of a serious situation for the offender.
“A cliché police internet trope shared in a social media post uses a poor attempt at humor to illustrate how little reverence law enforcement has for the lives it has needlessly destroyed,” stated the article, entitled, “South Jersey Cops Think Destroying Peoples Lives Over Cannabis Is Hilarious.”
What do the police have to say for themselves?
“We try and keep it a little more lighthearted. We find it’s a much easier way to interact with the community,” said Detective Mitch Levin. “It’s been proven that when we put things out there looking for help solving crimes, the more people that see it, the more tips we get. We’ve had a lot of success with that lately.”
Meanwhile, recreational marijuana remains illegal in New Jersey, but a Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted in June 2015 found that 58 percent of New Jerseyans support the idea of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults.
Marijuana possession arrests occur every 22 minutes in New Jersey, according to advocacy group New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. Nationally, arrests for marijuana possession are made every 41 seconds.
So, where is Absecon?
Absecon—population 8,300—was described by one resident as “very conservative place that seems to have trouble adjusting to the times we live in.”
“People there tend not to educate themselves past school, and residents just tend to say the stupidest things,” he wrote on Cop Block.
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