Philadelphia police to fire 13 officers over offensive, racist social media posts

The Philadelphia Police Department plans to dismiss 13 officers over a series of racist and inflammatory comments they shared on Facebook. 

The city's police commissioner, Richard Ross, announced at a press conference on Thursday that 13 officers would be suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss. Ross added that another four would be suspended for 30 days and that an additional 52 would receive a range of disciplinary penalties. 

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"A group of officers posted material that is not only offensive and unprotected, but constitutes an act or continuing course of conduct which demonstrates that the officers have little or no regard for their position as police officers," Ross said, later noting that he remains "very disappointed and angered by these posts, many of which violate basic human decency."

“We need to move past this ridiculous hate that has consumed this country and has done so for centuries," he added. 

The move from the Philadelphia Police Department comes just weeks after officers' social media posts were exposed by the Plain View Project, a database that compiled posts from current and former police officers in cities around the U.S. 

Ross last month assigned 72 officers to desk duties as the department launched an investigation into the content shared on social media. He said during Thursday's press conference that the probe found posts that included anti-Islam content and others that described African Americans as "thugs."

He said that other posts encouraged police brutality and violence against transgender individuals. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the 13 officers fired represents the most employees dismissed from the city's police department at one time in recent history. Ross said that the highest ranking official that will be dismissed is a sergeant. 

John McNesby, president of the police officers’ union, Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statement to the Inquirer that the union was “aware of the dismissals and disappointed that our officers will be terminated without due process.”

The union will meet "with each officer to prepare an appropriate response to protect our members’ rights under the contract," McNesby told the newspaper. 

The Plain View Project's database allegedly includes more than 3,000 Facebook posts shared by more than 328 active-duty officers in Philadelphia. The department said last month that it had hired a law firm to examine whether the posts are protected under the First Amendment, NPR reported.