The Philadelphia police commissioner announced Wednesday that 72 officers have been placed on desk duty as an investigation into racist and bigoted social media comments continues to unfold. At least 300 hundred Philadelphia police officers and nearly 3,000 other cops across the country have been implicated by an advocacy group called The Plain View Project.
On June 1, The Plain View Project released thousands of hateful social media comments posted by police officers throughout the nation, including Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Dallas. According to the database, Philadelphia Police Sgt. Joseph Przepiorka shared a Facebook post in 2017 of a meme that read “Death to Islam” with a skeleton wrapped in an American flag while holding a rifle.
“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,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross stated. “We’re not naïve to the fact and nor are we dismissive of it.”
“The thing that really angers me is that a vast overwhelming majority of our police officers are kind-hearted, decent people willing to put their lives on the line for fellow citizens,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in an interview. “These knuckleheads paint them all with a terrible brush.”
“There’s no question that this puts us in a position to work even harder than we already do to cultivate relationships with neighborhoods and individual groups that we struggle to work with or struggle to maintain good relationships with now,” Commissioner Ross admitted.
Subjected to an internal investigation, every member of the Philadelphia police department will be required to watch a training video outlining social media and off-duty policies in regards to race, ethnicity, code, and conduct, the commissioner announced. In addition, the officers’ social media posts will also be inspected for any future incidents of bigotry, racism, or support of police brutality.
“Over 300 people, that is an incredible number,” Rev. Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia said. “You have to imagine that there are a considerable number of people who are like them, who hold the same beliefs who are just not crazy enough to put it on social media. This is a cultural problem within our department that has to be addressed.”The hateful social media comments posted on The Plain View Project’s site earlier were collected from 2,900 current police officers and hundreds of former cops from at least eight police departments.