Resident in Croydon reacted with disgust after a police officer featured in a local poster campaign compared them to guests on the Jeremy Kyle show.
Sgt David Deuchar appeared on council posters about police funding, smiling and standing next to the town hall.
But he later wrote on Facebook: “Not sure that being the face of Croydon is something to be proud of. Research indicates all of Jeremy Kyle’s guests can trace their roots to the lovely town.”
The comments were spotted by residents before he could delete them.
The Jeremy Kyle show, a daytime ITV talk show, features people confronting relationship problems and issues such as alcohol or drug dependency, which often leads to them becoming distressed.
One district judge described the programme as “human bear-baiting” after guests were involved in a violent incident.
Commenting on Sgt Deuchar’s remarks, shopworker Kez Lewis, 19, said: “There are a lot of cool people in Croydon. Police officers need to be positive, not negative, about where they work. Someone in his position needs to be more careful than that.”
Resident Rita Saglam, 66, said: “I’m surprised because he looks very proud in the photos. He looks like a proper copper, like Pc Tony Stamp in The Bill. He shouldn’t say things like that.”
Borough commander Chief Superintendent Adrian Roberts apologised for the gaffe. He said: “These comments are unfortunate from a valued officer. He assured me his comments do not reflect his true feelings. He is very sorry and I apologise on his behalf.”
Crime in Croydon fell by one per cent over the year to May. Burglaries were down by slightly more than nine per cent, and most serious crimes fell by nearly a quarter.