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California police force under fire for posting ‘drunk Santa’ photo

A man dressed as Santa was arrested in California and dubbed "Drunk Santa Suit Criminal" by police.
A man dressed as Santa was arrested in California and dubbed "Drunk Santa Suit Criminal" by police. Brea Police Department

A California police department has been called out for insensitivity after sharing a photo of an arrested man dressed in a Santa Claus suit.

The Brea Police Department shared the original version of the photo to its official Facebook page along with a joke letter to Santa.

“Dear Santa, I’m sorry I stole your red suit. I was drunk and made some poor choices. I know it’s only October. And it’s hot. Too hot for this suit,” the post reads. “But I was drunk. Poor choices. Sincerely, Drunk Santa Suit Criminal.”

The shoeless man, dressed in Saint Nicholas’ classic red-and-white suit, can be seen having a nap on a cell bench.

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While many found the photo and accompanying fake letter to the real Santa Claus funny, many are also calling the department out for exploiting the inmate.

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“The spirit of Christmas isn’t about publicly shaming those who have made a poor choice in life,” one person wrote in the Facebook comments. “The ‘poor choice’ here was in BPD’s lack of poor judgment to post a photo of a man (not booking photo) at his expense, eliciting all these type of comments of publicly shaming and scrutiny.”

The commenter went on to add that this photo wasn’t a public notice, but rather a “public shaming,” and several others agreed, pointing out the seemingly “unethical” nature of the post.

Another Twitter user called out the department, writing: “We must always think about how we talk about someone or how we treat someone no matter what their particular status may be at the time.”

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Some were amused by the department’s post, with one person on Twitter pointing out that it might’ve been an early Halloween costume.

Another person tweeted: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” while one Facebook user joked in the comments: “Boy, he must have been hard to spot.”

According to Fox 11, the man was a suspect in the burglary of a storage shed from a local church Tuesday morning.

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The publication reports that police believe he found the suit at the church.

His identity is being kept private, but officials told the broadcast station that he was found in a car around 7 a.m. that day under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca