72 Philadelphia police officers were placed on administrative desk duty following an extensive probe into racist and offensive social media posts.
The cops, who are mostly Caucasian, were taken off the streets and placed on administrative duty after a national group accused police officers in multiple states of posting racist, anti-homosexual and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook.
The cops were removed from active duty after an extensive review of Facebook posts by the Philadelphia-based Plain View Project, which uncovered blatantly racist, anti-Muslim and anti-homosexual comments posted by police officers on public forums.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said at least “several dozen” officers will be disciplined and he expects some cops will lose their jobs.
“I am not prepared to tell you at this point who’s being disciplined and how many may be terminated, but I can tell you with a degree of certainty there are some people who will meet with that fate,” Ross said Wednesday.
“I can’t think of any other investigation that we’ve undertaken, at least in my 30 years, where that many people were taken off the street at one time,” Ross said.
Ross described himself as a “dinosaur” who doesn’t use social media, but he couldn’t understand how police officers who came into contact with the public on a daily basis could make what he called “ridiculous assertions” about entire groups of people.
“It angers me beyond belief, because it just makes our job far more difficult than it needs to be,” Ross said.
In an extensive 2-year investigation the Plain View Project reviewed thousands of Facebook posts made by police officers in states from Arizona to Florida.
According to the Associated Press, some of the posts supported beating up protesters and Muslims, mocked foreign accents, and questioned whether Black History Month is racist.
Following the publication of the group’s findings, St. Louis’ top prosecutor, Kim Gardner, added 22 names to a list of 59 police officers who can’t bring cases to her office for prosecution.
Gardner, who is Black, said 7 of the newly added officers are permanently banned from presenting cases to her office for warrants.
In a letter to Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and Police Chief John Hayden, Gardner said the social media statements were “shocking and beneath the dignity of someone who holds such a powerful position, especially those comments that advocate violence.”
“When a police officer’s integrity is compromised in this manner, it compromises the entire criminal justice system and our overall ability to pursue justice,” Gardner said in a news release late Tuesday. “After careful examination of the underlying bias contained in those social media posts, we have concluded that this bias would likely influence an officer’s ability to perform his or her duties in an unbiased manner.”
Racist posts were also found on public Facebook pages maintained by white police officers in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Florida.
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