Racist, Biased & Prejudicial – Cops Fired Over Social Media Comments

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Police on social media forget the age of cover-ups is over; law enforcement playing catch up

Law enforcement departments across the country continue to struggle with their officers’ use of social media, always trying to catch-up to ever-changing social media landscape with new policies; their enforcement being a challenge unto itself. Police are composed of the same people that form our communities, yet, they are required to behave at higher ethical standards to justify our trust in them to ‘Protect and Serve’ the rest of us. Every week a scandal over social media use of men-in-blue rocks the law enforcement community.

Law enforcement departments across the country continue to struggle with their officers’ use of social media, always trying to catch-up to ever-changing social media landscape with new policies; their enforcement being a challenge unto itself. Police are composed of the same people that form our communities, yet, they are required to behave at higher ethical standards to justify our trust in them to ‘Protect and Serve’ the rest of us. Every week a scandal over social media use of men-in-blue rocks the law enforcement community.

In North Charleston, South Carolina, the police department fired an officer for posting a photo of himself wearing a Confederate flag underwear. His post, all the more incendiary, came in the wake of a white supremacist killing spree which led to nine casualtaies at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church just a few miles away. The officer had the audacity to contend his termination with a wrongful termination suit, which was later settled.

Police officers posting questionable content, including abusive racist garbage, online has been an issue since questionable content on social media has been a concern. In the past decade, as movements like Black Lives Matter came to the fore, the magnitude of the problem scaled exponentially – and no one, least of all, the law departments, were prepared for it.

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In Chicago, a commander’s attempt to fire an officer for ‘bigoted views’ ended up unsuccessful. A Facebook page titled Chicago Code Blue finds itself in limelight for all the wrong reasons such as this comment: “Every Thug Deserves a Slug” – posted right after an officer was found guilty in the death of Laquan McDonald.

Emily Baker-White, a Philadelphia lawyer, launched the Plain View Project to document and review police behavior on Facebook. The Project documents how gross misconduct has seeped into the institutional DNA of police departments all over the country. At the time publication, the Project had examined Facebook accounts of about 2,900 officers from eight departments across the country as well as an additional 600 retired officers from the same departments.

“We present these posts and comments because we believe that they could undermine public trust and confidence in our police. In our view, people who are subject to decisions made by law enforcement may fairly question whether these online statements about race, religion, ethnicity and the acceptability of violent policing—among other topics—inform officers’ on-the-job behaviors and choices.”

— Plain View Project

Researchers at Plain View identified, about one in five current officers, and two in five retired officers, made public posts or comments that typically displayed bias, applauded violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language. The officers mocked Mexicans, women, and black people, celebrated the Confederate flag, and showed a man wearing a kaffiyeh scarf.

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Excerpts From Plain View Project

“Just another savage that needs to be exterminated,” wrote Booker Smith Jr., a Dallas police sergeant, about a homicide at a Dollar General store. “Execute all involved,” he wrote separately about a group of teens who were accused of killing a 6-year-old.

Reuben Carver III, a Phoenix officer, proclaimed in a stand-alone post, “It’s a good day for a choke hold.”

In St. Louis, Officer Thomas Mabrey distorted an incident in which a woman police officer was shot responding to a call from a Moroccan man in Lebanon, Ohio. “F these muslem turd goat humpers,” he wrote, one of numerous anti-Muslim posts.

When contacted about the findings of the Plain View Project, some departments requested more details about the flagged posts. The Phoenix PD initiated an inquiry into Carver’s post, submitting the findings to the Professional Standards Bureau for review. The same officer had also posted sexual assault threats to lawbreakers, celebrating violence against ‘hippies.’

St. Louis police department said the information about the post disparaging Muslims had been sent for review to Internal Affairs. A spokesperson with the Dallas Police Department said they had forwarded details regarding their officers to superiors for review.

Reaction—Findings Worrisome

Despite these assurance, experts in race and criminal justice find the data alarming to say the least. “This blows up the myth of bad apples, by the sheer number of images and numbers of individuals who are implicated,” said Nikki Jones, an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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“This blows up the myth of bad apples, by the sheer number of images and numbers of individuals who are implicated,”

Nikki Jones, an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Despite these assurance, experts in race and criminal justice find the data alarming to say the least. “This blows up the myth of bad apples, by the sheer number of images and numbers of individuals who are implicated,” said Nikki Jones, an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

David Kennedy, a criminology professor at John Jay College, said he considered the results “dire.”
“This is the kind of behavior that confirms the worst suspicions on the part of communities about the police,” Kennedy said, adding that it “fuels and cements” the conviction of people in distressed communities that the “police are not to be trusted.”

“This is the kind of behavior that confirms the worst suspicions on the part of communities about the police,” Kennedy said, adding that it “fuels and cements” the conviction of people in distressed communities that the “police are not to be trusted.”

David Kennedy, a criminology professor at John Jay College

The depth of police misconduct is just coming out to us, and unfortunately, this behaviour police officers has turned out to be far more common across the country. Social media, hailed as the first egalitarian medium of information, has made the racism and bias in our law enforcement more visible to us.

These accusations have been out there for decades. With each new report, there is no denying the truth; the system needs accountability and review. The age of cover-ups is now a thing of the past, police department across the nation will have to adapt and live up to the standards of ethics we ascribe to them when assigning the authority of blue uniform to them.

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