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BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A Michigan police department's viral Facebook prank featuring an altered photo of a squad car fooled many of its followers – and sparked debate.
According to the Lansing State Journal, the Bath Township Police Department posted the doctored image of a patrol car labeled "popo" – a slang term for police – last week with the following caption:
"So as some of you may have noticed, our page has been pretty helpful in connecting us with our community. We've found though, that we are still struggling to really reach the younger folk out there. So in an effort to bridge that gap, we've decided to update our patrol car graphics in an attempt to be more relatable to the local youths. #HowDoYouDoFellowKids #HopingForAGoodTrialRun #HopingForMoreWavingWithAllFiveFingers #PopoWithPupo (thanks for this one follower ;))"
The post quickly went viral, with more than 4,700 shares and 800 comments – many from people who thought the photo was real.
Reactions ranged from amused to outraged.
"You guys rock," one Facebook user wrote.
"They are hilarious," commented another.
But others complained that the post was racist, unprofessional and a waste of taxpayers' money.
"Let’s not only kill unarmed black people but make fun of their dialect, too. Hell of an outreach," one user wrote, to which the department responded: "We're not making fun of any dialect here ... Also, it isn't a real decal, just a mock up in MS Paint. :)"
In a separate comment, the department again clarified that the post was a prank.
"For those of you upset about us putting 'slang' on the car or for 'wasting taxpayers money,' we wanted to let you know that the photo was made as a joke," the post read. "Our cars still, and always will, say Police. No worries."