Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Police Department Worried Activision Would Sue Over Tone-Deaf Call Of Duty Recruitment Ad

Update 3/12/24 at 11:15 a.m. ET: The Peoria, Illinois police department that used Call of Duty imagery and references to try and recruit new cops were worried about Activision suing them, according to a new report from 404 Media. The publication obtained a redacted record of emails from the Peoria Police Department, who was discussing the ad campaign before it went live on social media (and was swiftly taken down after blowback).

This Modern Warfare 3 Gameplay Feature Spices Up A Weak Campaign

Share SubtitlesOffEnglishShare this VideoFacebookTwitterEmailRedditLinkview videoThis Modern Warfare 3 Gameplay Feature Spices Up A Weak Campaign

“Instead of using any images from Call of Duty (I didn’t want to cross any legal lines with Activision), I thought I would use one of the pics from our own SWAT guys. Please let me know what you think and any changes you want,” read a February 21 email from crime analyst Jacob Moushon to police Chief Eric Echevarria, Officer Christopher Collins, and Officer Ryan Winkle. Moushon sent another email an hour later, letting them know that he had “made a few revisions after looking it over.” As 404 Media reports, because of how the Peoria Police Department redacted these emails, it’s “unclear what those revisions were.” In another email, Officer Collins wrote, “the second one is not popping up for me while I’m on the road, but I like [REDACTED].”

None of the emails share any concern over the gamification or glorification of police duty.

Original story follows.

A Peoria, Illinois police department tried to recruit new officers with a Call of Duty-inspired campaign on social media, and it was as tone-deaf as you’d imagine. The post, originally shared on the Peoria Police Department’s social media page, showed three white men posing with guns while wearing tactical gear. “Stop playing games and answer the Call of Duty,” the post reads, with the “Call of Duty” portion of the poster written in the same text as Activision’s wildly popular (and more than occasionally problematic) first-person shooter franchise.

The post immediately garnered a deluge of negative responses online. It was shared on the Peoria, IL subreddit and on Facebook by citizens of the central Illinois city, which has a population of more than 100,000 people. “I can’t believe they actually had most likely multiple people look at this and say that’s what we need to drum up recruits,” wrote one Redditor. A Facebook user who shared the recruitment poster wrote “Literally aiming guns, but telling the children to put the guns down while you have ALL WHITE MEN POINTING THEIRS…AT WHOM.” They then mentioned the more than seven-year-long missing persons case of Alexis Scott, a young Black woman who went missing in September 2017. According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, the city of Peoria has a population that’s more than 50% white, with around 26% identifying as Black.

Read More: We Have To Talk (Again) About How War Games Depict The Middle East

Police department apologizes for Call of Duty recruitment ad

On February 28, Police Chief Eric Echevarria apologized in a statement to the Peoria Journal Star, saying:

There are several reasons why this ad should have never existed, reasons that would be obvious to many of us who don’t blindly “back the Blue.” First, Call of Duty is, largely, a game about indiscriminately shooting a lot of predetermined “bad guys” (who are often brown) and American police are notoriously trigger-happy. According to Mapping Police Violence, one of several sites attempting to collate instances of American police brutality, police killed 1,352 people in 2023, and so far in 2024, they’re responsible for the deaths of 150. The site also states that, in Illinois, Black people are 6.6 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Using Call of Duty, a game where shooting people makes a number go up (and that’s a good thing), as a frame of reference for the overall vibe of your police force is a nuclearly bad look.

Then there’s the poster itself, which clearly rips off Call of Duty font and the style of its promotional art (Kotaku reached out to Activision for comment), with the three officers in full tactical gear surrounded by orange-tinged smoke as if they’re in the middle of a battlefield. This is not indicative of the average day on the job for your local cop—police departments’ special units are often composed of veteran officers with at least a semblance of military or tactical training, not fresh-faced high school graduates with a 3.0 K/D on Modern Warfare III. And even if you eventually make it to a special unit, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be spending your time on the tac force in full military cosplay, surrounded by smoke, saving innocent lives. Plus, those units are as fallible as any other cop—narcotics police are the ones who killed Breonna Taylor, remember?

Thirdly, the tone-deaf, Call of Duty LARPing poster features three white guys on it, which isn’t exactly welcoming for any people of color who may want to join the force. It certainly doesn’t help allay the (proven) fears that white police officers disproportionately target Black and brown folks, does it?

The saddest part of all of this is that it isn’t the first time Call of Duty and other military-inspired games have been used as dubious recruitment methods. In 2022, it was revealed that the Army wanted to spend millions on ad campaigns across IGN and the Call of Duty esports league. There was even an official U.S. Army Esports Twitch account, though their last saved highlight is from four years ago. The more we conflate games like Call of Duty with actual, real-life jobs that hand you guns, the worse an already bad situation gets.

Popular Articles