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Thirteen officers in Philadelphia will be fired following an investigation into racist and offensive Facebook posts, the city police commissioner announced on Thursday.
In a news conference on Thursday, Commissioner Richard Ross said the officers are on a 30-day suspension with intent to dismiss.
The department had placed a total of 72 officers on administrative leave in June after a nonprofit group published the results of a two-year review of personal Facebook posts or comments from officers in Philadelphia and seven other departments.
PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT PUTS 72 OFFICERS ON DESK DUTY AMID INVESTIGATION INTO ANTI-MUSLIM SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
Ross said about 3,100 offensive or potentially offensive Facebook posts were identified and connected to 328 active-duty Philadelphia police officers, adding that some posts date back to 2010.
He said the posts “clearly advocated violence or death against any protected class such as ethnicity, national origin, sex, religion and race or any speech advocating or supporting crimes affecting the integrity, honesty or trustworthiness of the police department.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross spoke during a news conference on Thursday. The Philadelphia Police Department is suspending 13 police officers with an intent to fire them following an investigation into offensive and sometimes threatening Facebook posts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Ross told reporters that all but three of the 72 Philadelphia officers currently on leave will face some form of discipline. Four officers will be suspended for 30 days, while the rest will face disciplinary action ranging from reprimands to a five-day suspension.
The posts included “anti-Islamic posts such as ‘death to Islam,’” as well as “references to African-Americans as thugs,” “encouragement of police brutality,” and “homophobic memes which in some cases suggest violence against transgender individuals,” according to Ross.
“I continue to be very disappointed and angered by these posts, many of which violate basic human decency,” Ross said on Thursday.
“We need to move past this ridiculous hate that has consumed this country and has done so for centuries.”
Ross said on June 28 nearly all of the 72 officers on administrative leave, who have not been identified, received the first in a series of trainings. The department is also looking at software that would track and audit officers’ social media posts.
NEARLY 2 DOZEN ST. LOUIS OFFICERS FLAGGED OVER ALLEGED ‘RACIALLY CHARGED SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS’
The president of the Philadelphia police union said the Fraternal Order of Police is disappointed that the officers will be terminated without due process, adding that “the overwhelming majority of our members serve this city with integrity and professionalism.”
After publication of the database, which allegedly included nearly 180 posts tied to Phoenix officers that disparage black people, Muslims and transgender people, the police chief moved some officers to “non-enforcement” assignments while the department investigates.
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In St. Louis, the top prosecutor placed nearly two dozen city police officers on an exclusion list last month after learning about “racially charged social media posts of current and retired city police.” Those officers are not allowed to bring cases to her office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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