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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.