Nine police officers at Hampton University have lost their jobs because of social media posts, becoming the latest casualties in a growing list of cops being disciplined for online activity that supports racism, misogyny, violence and/or Islamophobia.
The now-former officers with the Hampton University Police Department, including supervisors, got the boot on Thursday after investigators uncovered that they participated in what was deemed the “Third Annual Meme Wars.” According to a letter sent to one of the terminated officers, the so-called “Meme Wars is described as a jovial release of photographs and captions designed to levy insults at others in the group as well as persons outside the group.”
Though the southeastern Virginia university would not go into detail about what was included in the posts or on what from which social media sites the post was shared, they did release a statement to local news outlet WAVY.
“After a full investigation, it was determined that the officers shared misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks via social media,” Hampton’s media relations team wrote. “The university has a zero tolerance for such behavior.”
A letter to one of the officers said that by participating in the group, the officer was “in violation of Hampton’s Code of Conduct and its policy against discrimination, harassment and unacceptable behavior.”
The firing of the former Hampton University cops followed recent investigations into other police officers around the country after a public database exposed other police officers in several jurisdictions around the country.
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 were about 2,800 of the officers featured in the database, some of them high-ranking, are still on the job.
Recently in Philadelphia, 13 cops were fired after it was found that they posted racist or violent Facebook posts. Initially, 72 officers were placed on administrative leave, but the officers that were not fired have been going through retraining according to Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
In June, St. Louis began an investigation into their officers about posts revealed through PVP. On July 19, a Phoenix police union announced they would be investing in a service that would “scrub” social media posts made by officers as an investigation continues.