Kentucky State Police officials have apologized for a Super Bowl tweet on Sunday that discouraged drunken driving while also appearing to make light of jail rape.
The public service announcement, posted Sunday night from the department’s official Twitter account read: “Enjoy watching Rob Gronkowski (TE) play but if you drink & drive … your tight end may end up in jail!” according to the Courier-Journal.
The since-deleted tweet included a GIF showing soap on a rope.
The agency’s post prompted backlash on social media — and criticism from Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D), who urged the police agency to apologize.
Hours later, Kentucky State Police did just that, saying on Twitter it was sorry for “the inappropriate tweet” — which, it added, was “made by an individual employee [and] does not represent KSP or our mission.”
“Making light of sexual assault is never acceptable, and we apologize for the distress this tweet caused, particularly to the victims of these heinous crimes,” the department said after removing the offending tweet.
“KSP is committed to protecting against sexual assault and fighting for justice for victims.”
The department did not immediately respond Monday morning to a request for comment.
An estimated four percent of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2 percent of jail inmates reported one or more recent incidents of sexual victimization during their incarceration, according to a 15-month survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The bureau — which operates as part of the Justice Department — maintains a National Prison Rape Statistics Program under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which was signed into law by President Bush.
Throughout the Super Bowl, posts from Kentucky State Police’s Twitter account used the game, halftime show and commercials to warn people about drunken driving.
Following the jail rape tweet, people on social media called it “terrible,” “tasteless” and “offensive,” saying it should not have come from a state police agency.
“And you wonder why you don’t get the respect and admiration of the masses?” one person wrote on Twitter, saying the employee who posted it should be terminated.
“Shame on you. This is repulsive and horribly inappropriate. Rape and sodomy are never funny,” another person wrote.
“@kystatepolice What are you doing? Please… that is distasteful and an embarrassment to our state,” another added.
Still, some called the Kentucky State Police joke “on point.”
“You need to get over yourself,” another wrote. “It’s serious but we know it’s a joke. Stop with making everything so divisive.”