PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Ten Philadelphia police officers who have been under investigation for posting racist and derogatory messages on social media have now been pulled from duty, following the release of hundreds of such messages by watchdog research group The Plain View Project.
Department officials have removed officers from the streets and confiscated their guns while they complete their investigation into the postings. Authorities are also looking into several more inquiries.
The Plain View Project compiled the comments in a database, which includes thousands of posts from police officers, active and retired, in eight cities. About 320 Philly officers posted problematic content, according to authorities.
NAACP Philadelphia President Rodney Muhammed addressed City Council about his concerns and wants the officers removed from their posts.
“These revelations that these posts are showing us is a clear signal that we are not safe, especially people of color, people of ethnicities that are different than those policemen that put up the postings, and those of us that may not be of their religion,” he said.
The police department’s social media policy is clear: Employees are prohibited from using ethnic slurs, profanity, or anything that is considered harassment, defamatory or discriminatory. But authorities say they have to go through the proper protocols and verify on their own that each account belongs to the officers in question.
The city’s police union has condemned the hateful speech, adding it stands with the overwhelming majority of their officers who “act with integrity and professionalism.”
An outside law firm will help Philadelphia’s legal and police departments with the investigation, combing through the most egregious posts first, according to Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
The city’s top cop released a detailed outline as to how the inquiry will go, and each officer will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Ross will also implement new measures, including a new internal auditing process, which monitors social media posts, as well additional anti-racist, anti-bias and social media training.
In a statement, Ross added: “Police officers know they are held to a higher standard, and cannot engage in careless or outright reprehensible conduct, regardless whether they
are on or off duty.”