Several weeks after a database exposed hundreds of racist posts made by Phoenix police officers, 72 cops in the Philadelphia Police Department are being assigned to desk duty over their exposure in the same manner.
Earlier this month, watchdog group The Plain View Project made waves after a collaboration between the nonprofit newsroom Injustice Watch and BuzzFeed News used the database and revealed a pattern of apparent racism across America’s police departments. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, Arizona, Dallas, and St. Louis, are among the cities included.
Among the more than 3,000 posts collected from those with the PPD are 20 posts from active duty officers. In July 2015, Officer Brian Irizarry Sr. shared a post of the Confederate flag that read, “I challenge all my friends on facebook to repost this to show that we will not back down from our heritage.”
Another current department employee, Detective Ray McGough, shared an article from Breitbart in January that said Black residents of Baltimore were blaming the increased murder rate on a decreased amount of police presence “despite three years of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activities insisting that police be pulled from their neighborhoods.”
“You reap what you sow,” McGough captioned his post.
With a lengthy investigation ongoing, authorities have since pulled dozens of officers from the street and assigned them to administrative duty in what is being called the largest removal of officers from active duty in recent memory, NPR reported.
“We are equally as disgusted by many of the posts that you saw and in many cases, the rest of the nation saw,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said at a press conference Wednesday, June 19. He could not share who exactly would be terminated and who would face other kinds of discipline but said there will be some who “will meet with that fate.”
The department is working with a law firm to determine if the posts are protected under the First Amendment.
As a solution to the apparently rampant culture, anti-bias/anti-racism training is set to commence this fall with an outside firm, Ross said, noting 150 people have already preliminarily gone through the training. The department will also consult with the Anti-Defamation League on the matter.
Meanwhile, it is not lost on Ross the effect that these posts will have with the community the police are meant to serve and protect.
“We’ve talked about from the outset how disturbing, how disappointing and upsetting these posts are and how they will undeniably impact police-community relations, and we’re not naïve to that fact and nor are we dismissive of it,” he said.