After months of investigation into problematic Facebook posts by Philadelphia police officers, department officials are finally dishing out much needed disciplinary action.
During a news conference on Thursday, Police Commissioner Richard Ross condemned the actions of 72 police officers that were found to have Facebook posts that contained violence, racism, Islamophobia and more. Just 17 of the 72 are slated for a 30-day suspension, and out of that group 13 are expected to be dismissed all together.
“I continue to be very angered and disappointed by these posts, many of which, in my view, violate the basic tenants of human decency,” Ross said. “And I am saddened by the fact that there are even some who would attempt to justify such hateful and vile behavior.”
The Plain View Project (PVP), which is a searchable database created by lawyer Emily Baker-White, shows countless social media posts made by thousands of police officers at eight police departments around the country that include Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix and St. Louis. It took Baker-White 18 months to create the database of 5,000 posts and comments made by police officers through verified accounts. There are about 2,800 of the officers featured in the database, some of them high-ranking, are still on the job.
One Facebook post made by Philadelphia Captain George Mullen was a meme featuring the image of the late Sammy Davis Jr. holding a microphone and pointing to the viewer. The words cross the image stated: “Instead Of Hands Up Don’t Shoot How About Pull Your Pants Up Don’t Loot.”
According to ABC News, the investigation, which began on June 1 and was conducted by an outside law firm contracted by the city, examined more than 3,100 Facebook posts made by 328 officers. Seventy-two officers were initially put on administrative duty, but Ross claimed that most of the posts, “advocates excessive force, but not necessarily to a person’s membership in a protected class.”
Outside of the 17 officers facing suspension and termination, most went through training on social media and professionalism and they will also receive discipline ranging from reprimand to a five-day suspension.
Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney said in a statement, “Our police officers are entrusted to serve the people of Philadelphia, everybody, all the people of Philadelphia. A great deal of the social media content was contradictory to that principle and antithetical to our administration’s values.”