Controversial Virginia bumper sticker reads: 'Shoot a Cop'

Published: Jun. 13, 2015 at 2:41 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2015 at 4:13 AM EDT
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NBC12 viewers contacted 12 On Your Side about a bumper sticker that reads "SHOOT A COP." It's gotten the attention of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police. Is it Free Speech or a terroristic threat?

"It's absolutely very dangerous," said Kevin Carroll with the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police. "It's dangerous for the officers."

The image is making the rounds on social media.

"Officers make mistakes," said Carroll. "I understand that, but I did not know that it now has become fashionable to hate the police."

We asked NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin if the message amounts to free speech or a terroristic threat?

"As obnoxious and stupid and potentially dangerous as that might be," said Benjamin. "That's the expression of a message, and that's protected by the first amendment."

Benjamin says it would be unlawful for police to stop a person for displaying such an image.

"No. You can't stop a person," said Benjamin. "The police cannot detain a person for the legal exercise of their first amendment right to free speech. But you are inviting that kind of attention when you drive around with something that inflammatory."

Carroll admits these images take a toll when trying to attract good officers.

"We already have enough trouble as it is recruiting good recruits and retaining people," said Carroll. "This just makes it harder."

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