Thirteen Philadelphia Officers to Be Fired for Facebook Posts

Thirteen Philadelphia police officers will be fired after the racist and offensive comments they wrote on social media were exposed, according to officials.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said during a press conference on July 18 that over a dozen police officers will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss them over the comments they made on Facebook, KYW-TV reported. In June, 72 police officers were placed on administrative leave after watchdog group The Plain View Project uncovered the offensive posts made by Philadelphia police officers and other officers across the US. Ross said the group found over 3,000 offensive posts made on Facebook by 328 active-duty Philadelphia police officers that date back to 2010, according to KYW-TV. Some of the Facebook posts included Islamophobic posts and racist memes. Four police officers will receive 30-day suspensions while keeping their jobs and three of the officers will face no discipline. The rest of the officers who were placed on desk duty will receive a five-day suspension.

“That is disheartening to know that in 2019 that we still have people with these views, that not only have these views but that would take to social media in a very public space to expound on such views in a way that is absolutely sickening,” Ross said, according to the news station.

Ross said the investigation over the Facebook posts is still ongoing, but there are likely to be no more firings. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said during the press conference that he is “confident” in Ross and does not blame department leaders over the offensive social media posts.

“I think people have hate in their heart, they have hate in their hearts, and I don’t they there’s anything they can do to get the hate out of their hearts other than fire them, discipline them, and train them,” he said, according to KYW-TV.

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #5 President John McNesby told NBC News that the organization is “disappointed” the officers involved will be fired from their posts without due process. McNesby told the news station the organization will meet with the officers to help “prepare an appropriate response.”

"FOP Lodge #5 and our members condemn racist and hateful speech in any form," he said in a statement to NBC News. "The overwhelming majority of our members serve this city with integrity and professionalism."

The Plain View Project also discovered racist and offensive Facebook posts from officers in several cities including Dallas, Phoenix, and St. Louis. In June, it was announced that St. Louis Police Officers will undergo sensitivity training for the racist and anti-Muslim posts that were made on Facebook, the St. Louis-Post Dispatch previously reported.

The founder of the project, Emily-Baker-White, told the publication that there were 43 Facebook accounts tied to St. Louis police officers. Twenty-two of those officers were from the Metropolitan Police Department and 21 others were of former police officers.

“I am depressed by the findings and I think we need to do better,” Baker-White previously told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. “I think there are enough of these posts out there that this doesn’t seem like a ‘bad apples’ problem, it seems like a culture problem… I fear that people in these communities might be less likely to ask an officer for help. They aren’t calling 911 when they need protection because they fear police officers aren’t in their corner.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Missouri (CAIR-MO) demanded that the police chief of St. Louis investigate the Facebook posts.

“We are utterly shocked and sickened by the extent that white supremacist, racists and Islamophobes have infiltrated the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Faizan Syed, executive director of CAIR-MO, said in a previous statement. “Officers cannot serve and protect people who they hate. City officials must immediately take action, investigate this situation, hold those officers accountable, and take serious meaningful actions to rebuild trust.”

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson previously told KTVI that the offensive Facebook posts made by the officers are “disturbing.”

“These posts are disturbing and unacceptable… we expect professionalism out of every city employee,” Krewson previously told the news station. “No exceptions.”

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards previously told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that several city workers were disciplined in 2017 for their offensive social media posts, including two public safety employees that have since been fired.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.