13 Philly police officers to be fired in Facebook investigation

Mark Abrams
July 18, 2019 - 1:57 pm
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross

Mark Abrams/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  The Philadelphia Police Department on Thursday announced disciplinary actions against 72 officers who posted inappropriate content on Facebook which included hate speech toward certain minority groups. 

Police Commissioner Richard Ross described some of the posts as disgusting and vile and condemned those he said advocated violence against others. He said an extensive internal affairs probe identified a group of officers as the worst offenders.

Ross said 17 officers have been placed on 30-day suspension, and 13 of those officers are suspended with intent to dismiss. 

The remaining four will face one-month suspensions.

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All 72 officers were removed from street duty during an investigation and the internal affairs probe into their actions continues with disciplinary action still likely. There were more than 300 officers who had their Facebook posts reviewed. 

The punishment varied based on the content in each post. Ross said some posts were not protected by the First Amendment and that those officers had no regard for their positions as police officers.

Ross also said the police department will provide anti-bias and anti-racist training to officers.

"The police department will contract an outside expert to conduct anti-bias and anti-racist training for all sworn personnel. The training will commence this fall, likely in October," he said. 

Mayor Jim Kenney, who joined Ross at a news conference at police headquarters, said he believes Ross and police commanders did nothing to promote the misconduct of the officers.

"I look at his leadership everyday. I look at their leadership everyday and I'm confident in their leadership. We've made tremendous progress in this department over the last three years and we'll continue to make progress. He has my confidence, they have my confidence and we will address this extremely unfortunate situation in the best way we can," Kenney said. 

In a statement, the Fraternal Order of Police said they are "aware of the dismissals and disappointed that our officers will be terminated without due-process." 

While the FOP leadership condemned racist and hateful speech in any form, the FOP said it will step up to represent the dismissed officers to ensure their rights are protected under the police contract.