'Speeders beware:' Tennessee police department's post with AT-4 stirs controversy

Photo: Loretto Police Department

A Tennessee police department's social media post has thousands of people talking online.

The Loretto Police Department posted a picture of an officer pointing an AT-4 on Dec. 10 that reads:

"Speeders beware. We recently acquired this surplus AT-4 and will be strictly enforcing the 45 mph zone in town. Here we see Officer Thomas set up on North Military Street. The versatility of the AT-4 allows for hit and run tactics on all our roadways.

(Do not take this post seriously.)"

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The post's 1,600 comments shows no shortage of opinions about the photo. Some people appeared to be enraged by the image, while others enjoyed it.

"Ah yes, tone deaf police department cracks joke about murdering folks for minor infractions. Because that's not a current issue that is putting national scrutiny on police departments already," Brandon Upchurch commented.

"Man someone always has to go and be that guy. This was a nice wholesome affair and y'all couldn't just laugh and move on," Hunter Thomason commented.

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The post has attracted both new fans to the page and a few bad reviews.

"Reading all these comments. Loretto PD just became my favorite PD in the country," Christian Sams commented.

"Very unprofessional and they make light of serious topics," Andrew Lascelle said in a review of the page.

The police department released new details about the post on Dec. 13:

"We have had some questions from both inside and outside our community about the AT-4 post so we felt it appropriate to clear some things up.

First, the AT-4 is inert or spent. It is a display only and cannot be loaded or used to fire the rocket. It is the property of a fellow officer and was used with his permission. It is our understanding these can be purchased by anyone at military surplus store that carry them.

Second, we need to address the idea that we are advocating murdering our citizens. Anyone that is familiar with our small town as the officers who protect it know this could not be more false.

Third, we often use humor to relay important points on this page. A scroll thru our posts will prove this. In this post our 45 mph speed limit is prominently displayed which is the point.

Finally, our goal with this page is to engage our citizens and the community. We would much rather do this thru humor than bland statements and posts. The reality of our work is often sad and depressing but our interactions with each other do not have to be. The feedback we have received from this approach has been overwhelmingly positive which tells us it is working. We welcome criticism but will not tolerate threats. It is important to remember we are human, we make mistakes, and most importantly we are not perfect.

Thank you!"

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The original post has been shared more than 9,500 times. What are your thoughts on the police department’s post? Chime in here.

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