The Philadelphia Police Department are set to fire 13 officers for offensive social media posts, which included homophobic and racist sentiments.
This discipline was the result of research done by by the Plain View Project. They published thousands of Facebook posts from jurisdictions around the country, including Philadelphia, in June.
Following the publication of these posts, the Philadelphia Police Department launched an internal investigations.
Overall, the department removed 72 officers from street duty. They gave 13 a 30-day suspension with the intent to formally dismiss them.
Four other officers received a 30-day suspension, three received no other formal discipline, and the rest received varying consequences from formal reprimands to 5-day suspensions.
What did the messages say?
Most of the messages reviewed were homophobic, racist, and Islamophobic in nature.
In one post from 2014, an officer wrote a suspect ‘should be taken out back and put down like the rabid animal he is’. More recently in February, a different officer commented on a news article about an alleged murderer and wrote: ‘Hang him.’
In other posts, officers described Islam as a ‘cult’ which glorified death.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney held a press conference about the matter on Thursday (18 July).
Ross said the 13 officers set to be fired all made posts that advocated violence. He added every officer going forward will receive training about social media and off-duty behavior.
Kenney commented at the conference: ‘We have a duty to represent ourselves and our city. We will not allow this incident to break down the progress we have made and we pledge to do better.’
A project investigating police
A group of Philadelphia attorneys created Plain View Project in 2016. They formed the database when they learned numerous police officers made social media posts that ‘appeared to endorse violence, racism and bigotry’.
As a research project, Plain View identifies such posts.
‘We believe that these statements could erode civilian trust and confidence in police, and we hope police departments will investigate and address them immediately,’ the group states on its website.