A Northern California school police officers union has come under fire for selling t-shirts with a picture of a child behind bars and the slogan: "U raise 'em, we cage 'em."
Twin Rivers Unified Superintendent Frank Porter, who oversees the police department, said officials are meeting to decide whether to take disciplinary action.
"I am deeply disappointed that any of our employees would produce anything like that, even in their off time," Porter said.
According to town leaders, they felt that the fundraiser-intended shirts were “highly offensive and fuel mistrust of the Twin Rivers Police Department,” reports Fox News.
"Unfortunately, this shirt seems to confirm that this is who Twin Rivers Police are and how they think, or at least some of them," community leader Derrell Roberts said. "This doesn't speak highly of the culture of this department."
The Twin Rivers Police Officers Association (POA) officials said they came up with the T-shirt idea in 2009 to raise money for fallen officers. Less than 30 shirts were ordered and most were sold for $12 to union members.
The POA website said in an official statement: "These shirts were made more than two years ago and have not been sold by the POA for over a year due to concerns in our own department."
"However, no matter how long ago, we realize and acknowledge that we have made a mistake and an error in judgment," the website stated. The union president stressed that the T-shirts weren't on sale to members of the public, writes KCRA.
Association President Arlin Kocher claims that the shirts were a mistake and that the union stopped selling them this summer at the police chief's request.
"I don't think this will be received well by the public, which is why we stopped selling them," Kocher said. "Our union, especially me, take full responsibility."
Others were simply shocked at what they perceived to be a severe lack of good judgement.
“Oh, my God. Bad message. If it was the gang unit in a high crime area, that might be a little different. That's bad, that's horrible,” said former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness according the Daily Mail.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the department.
They have been under increasing scrutiny since one of its officers was shot four times on Oct. 22 and the suspected shooter, Tyrone Smith, died hours later while in custody.
In fact, the Sacramento Branch of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has asked the FBI to examine the department’s “scope of duties, authority and boundaries,” reports KCRA.
The NAACP even put together a town-hall style meeting so Sacramento residents could voice their concerns about the department, including “violent behavior and misconduct."
With an organization like NAACP trying to call in an FBI investigation, the last thing that police department needs is a stack of shirts upsetting members of the community.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.