The St. Louis County Police Department has issued an apology following public outcry over a post to the department Facebook page that referenced 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed by police in Cleveland last month while playing with a toy gun and then offered advice for parents about letting children have toy guns. The post, which was sent out on Facebook and Twitter shortly before 6 a.m. EST, was taken down a few hours later.
"This article is not about this (sic) a boy losing his life, whether this was a justified shooting or, whether the cops acted too fast," the post stated. "This is about the Fenton precinct making its residents aware of a 'hot' topic and learning from this incident so Fenton never loses a child's life."
The post outlined the ways a police officer is trained to respond when someone calls about a gun that may or may not be real. The author of the post says that it is the parent's responsibility to train their children for interactions with police officers should they happen. The children should be trained to throw down the gun and may be instructed to lie on the ground, the post said.
Here is the full post, which was accompanied by a photo of an Airsoft gun:
The post was met with a generally negative response on social media. At one point the top liked comment under the Facebook post said, "Stop trying to make excuses for OTHER BAD COPS."
Police Chief Jon Belmar issued a statement apologizing for the Facebook post several hours after it was removed.
Earlier in the day, a reporter tweeted the following conversation with the department:
Screenshots taken by ABC.