TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department drew backlash Wednesday on Twitter after its official account retweeted and liked a tweet from Donald Trump’s campaign manager and liked another from the president.
The retweet, removed an hour later, was a marked departure from the account’s typical activity, which includes updates about the department, developing crime stories and is generally nonpartisan.
The @TampaPD account shared a tweet from Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, saying “#FourMoreYears” in response to actor Jon Voight's video praising the president.
“Our nation is stronger and wiser because we have taken a chance on a man who has become the greatest president,” Voight said in the video. “I am honored to call him President Trump.”
The account also “liked” Parscale’s tweet, as well as a video from President Trump’s Twitter account that gave highlights of his recent Fourth of July speech. By 6 p.m. Wednesday, the account had un-liked both of the tweets.
Shortly after the retweet was removed, Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty told the Tampa Bay Times that the retweets and likes were not intentional, and that he was “getting to the bottom” of how they were shared from the department’s account.
“We have more than one person that has access to our Twitter, so I’m not sure how it happened yet,” Hegarty said.
Several police staffers have access to the agency’s social media accounts so they can inform the public of road closures or other incidents throughout the day and night, he said.
In an email, Hegarty said he believes the Twitter activities in question were likely done in error.
“It is quite possible that a member of our social media team was careless in toggling between a personal Twitter account and the official TPD account,” he said. “That’s understandable, but inappropriate.”
Department policy forbids using official social media accounts for political purposes, Hegarty said, and the activity that was flagged Wednesday was “not appropriate for our Twitter account.”
Twitter users were quick to notice the police department’s retweet of Parscale and criticized the seemingly partisan messaging.
“Is this an official endorsement from the Tampa PD? So much for being objective,” one user with the handle @think_young1 wrote.
“Have you been hacked? What nonsense is this? This organization is supposed to be nonpartisan, SHAMEFUL,” an account using the name Jennifer Martin tweeted.