(Pictured is Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr.)
Thirteen Philadelphia police officers are going to be fired in the wake of the Plain View Project’s (PVP) June release of over 5,000 offensive and violent Facebook posts from cops across the country.
The online database was born out of a 2016 discovery by Philadelphia attorneys that some local police officers had been posting bigoted and threatening comments and statuses on Facebook. Over the next few years, the creators of the PVP collected over 5,000 posts from current and retired officers throughout the U.S. Over 300 of the offensive of potentially offensive posts in the database belonged to current or former Philadelphia cops. After review, the department put 72 of its officers on administrative duty for their posts. They announced further disciplinary actions on July 18.
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Some of the 72 officers will be suspended for five days. Seventeen will face 30-day suspensions, and 13 of those seventeen will face suspension with intent to dismiss. The department did not release the names of the officers, but the PVP database shows the names of the officers responsible for making the posts, only redacting the names of those not affiliated with the police. The highest-ranking officer to be losing their job is a sergeant, according to NBC.
Among the hundreds of posts include an officer sharing a picture that describes Islam as a “cult that glorifies death,” and other posts with derogatory comments about former President Barack Obama.
According to the PVP website, the creators published the posts to hold law enforcement accountable.
“We believe that these statements could erode civilian trust and confidence in the police, and we hope police departments will investigate and address them immediately,” the site says.
John McNesby, the president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, said in a statement that he was disappointed the department was going to be firing the officers without due process but added that the department condemned racist and hateful speech.
“We are currently meeting with each officer to prepare an appropriate response to protect our members’ rights under the contract,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of our members serve this city with integrity and professionalism.”
Earlier this month, McNesby also dismissed the posts as “just cops being cops.”
“People say racist Facebook posts, do we know they are racist?” he said in an interview with KYW NewsRadio. “There may have been a few. A lot of this stuff though I think is just cops being cops and venting.”
In a news conference, Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. condemned the officers, saying their social media conduct created a lack of trust in the community and showed they had little regard for the gravity of their jobs.
Moving forward, he said, the department will implement additional conduct training, including anti-bias and anti-racism workshops. He said the department also plans to purchase or develop software to data-mine officer’s social media accounts and flag potentially inappropriate content.