DC Police Meme Tweet Goes Viral, Earns Backlash

WASHINGTON — The Washington Metropolitan Police Department used a trendy meme to convey the point that the best way to avoid a ticket for running a red light is to not run the red light in the first place:

The tweet received tens of thousands of retweets and likes, but also got dozens of responses alleging and alluding to police brutality and incompetence. Here were some of the more viral responses:

That escalated quickly.

This is the “Roll Safe” meme, created using actor Kayode Ewumi from the BBC Three web series Hood Documentary. Generally, the picture or gif video is paired with advice so bad that it’s actually genius, or just twisted logic presented as common sense.

The meme is months old but has gained a lot of traction on social media in recent weeks, leading the Metro Police to use it to convey the message of safety. Red light traffic cameras are used at more than three dozen intersections in the district where the police have seen a high rate of accidents.

The cameras are used 24 hours per day and the purpose is noble: “to reduce traffic violations and, as a result, decrease the number of crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives.” After a photo is snapped of the rear license plate, a ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle, who assumes responsibility for whomever was driving at the time of the incident.

The only acceptable extenuating circumstances are being part of a funeral procession or if the vehicle was stolen. No points are assessed, and the fine is $150, doubled from the $75 fine assessed before 2011.

The cameras are very lucrative for the district, raising $10.5 million in 2015, from more than 65,000 tickets. Fortunately for the safety of drivers and pedestrians in the district, this marks a five-year decline in red light tickets assessed.

More from Brian Tinsman
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