A Tik Tok video posted by the Edmonton Police Service’s community engagement team is being called misogynistic and damaging by many.
“I was frankly just stunned that this… I was just stunned by it,” said Tom Engel, the chair of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association’s policing committee.
“I thought: ‘How could anyone in the Edmonton Police Service think this would be an appropriate way to engage the community?’”
In the video, an officer in uniform is seen walking out of a double set of doors with the caption: “When you get a text from your wife that a guy is at home picking up your daughter for a date.”
Someone off camera tosses the officer two cans that he cracks open and drinks from, with the caption: “Water, not beer.” The officer then gets in his marked police vehicle and drives off with lights engaged.
The entire thing is set to audio from Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entrance music and commentary from a WWE match.
“The suggestion is that it’s OK to shotgun beer, be completely out of control, jump in your vehicle when you find out your daughter is on a date and, I guess, go beat up the boyfriend and maybe admonish, or worse, the daughter, maybe get pissed off with the wife for allowing this to happen,” Engel said. “There are so many things.”
The thoughts seem to be echoed online. In one thread of several circulating after people shared the video to Twitter, users weren’t happy.
“Just curious if it’s typical officer attitude that men existing around women are assumed automatically a danger and in need of a beatdown,” one Twitter user asked.
“Yikes,” says another. “Looks like he’s slamming back beers before driving. I hope taxpayers aren’t funding this.”
Over the last year, a new kind of spotlight has been put on police across the world, says social marketing strategist Brittney Le Blanc.
She says discussions around violence and the “inherent misogynistic attitude associated with policing” means police forces have a lot of work and reputation building to do.
But she says this video wasn’t the way to do it.
“Unfortunately this video just walks right into the stereotypes and celebrates them.
“It kind of epitomizes all the negative things people think of the police service.”
Dr. Cristina Stasia is the director of the leadership training and development program at the Peter Lougheed leadership college and was very vocal against the video when she saw it on Twitter.
She said, at first, she thought she was watching a video from a parody account, particularly because of the choice of sound.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was arrested for abusing his wife in 2002. He pleaded no contest and received a fine, community service and probation.
“What you see, what EPS is showing us, is these discussions have barely started,” Stasia said about movements like MeToo and Black Lives Matter. “(Police) felt empowered and safe to use taxpayers money to put out a video with this messaging that champions someone who was charged with beating his wife and they need to educate themselves, but also there’s a bit of learning for all of us to do.”
While the video has received plenty of criticism online, there are some defending it.
“Ha ha ha ha. My dad was an Edmonton Police officer, he would have done this. Good cops exist, people, and many of them have a great sense of humour. Relax,” one said.
“This is fun. People should have fun,” another said.
But Engel says there’s nothing fun about it, and that it reflects a “very specific subculture in the Edmonton Police Service.”
“It harms the reputation of policing generally, not just with the EPS,” he said.
An EPS spokesperson confirmed to 630 CHED Tuesday morning the video had been removed from the team’s verified Tik Tok account.
It’s a move Stasia wishes the EPS hadn’t done.
“This is an important dialogue to have to understand where people are coming from, to understand the implications,” she said.
“But by deleting the Tik Tok, what they’re saying is, ‘Oh we got critique. We’re just not here for the conversation,’ and that is just such a lack of leadership.”
In a statement, the EPS said the video was meant to be a lighthearted moment, but the organization acknowledges it missed the mark.
“Many people felt the video promoted outdated gender norms, violence and intimidation as inappropriate problem-solving tools, and drinking and driving – this was not the intention, but unfortunately the impact. As a result, the video has been taken down.”
The statement also reiterated no alcohol was used in the video.