By Alex Lloyd Gross
The city of Philadelphia removed 72 cops from active street duty amid reports of racist or offensive comments posted to social media. “These cases will be investigated.and the punishment could range from a one day suspension to termination,” said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. He did say that not all of the officers removed will be punished and some comments will be shown to be protected under the first amendment.An example would be an opinion on a matter of public concern that may be unpopular but that does not include threats of violence or pejorative language against any protected class. If the speech is not protected by the First Amendment, the case will proceed with appropriate discipline,” Ross said. The officers are on desk duty and have no interaction with the public, police said.
People are not happy in Philadelphia. Some are conflicted. You do not want an officer that posts about killing or hurting Muslims or Jews to work with them, or anywhere for that matter. Some of the posts are controversial and offensive but show an officers opinion. Calling for the feeding of pork to Muslims is in bad taste but it could be considered satire.
With summer about to begin and violent crime on the rise many citizens are not happy about the removal of these officers. They feel it jeopardizes public safety. It keeps police districts short staffed and citizens fell that calls for service could back up. In a statement FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby said in a statement:
“It’s premature and irresponsible for the Commissioner to tell the public that police officers will be fired without a complete investigation into officers’ social media use,” said McNesby. “Our officers are entitled to due process just like any other citizen.
“FOP attorneys and leadership have been working around-the-clock protecting our members rights under the contract and free-speech.We will support and represent those officers during this overly-broad social-media investigation.. Far too many officers have been taken off the street during a time of increased violence in our city.”
About 3100 posts on social media are being investigated, officials said. An outside law firm is doing the investigation to determine if each post is merely offensive or if it is violent or discriminatory in mature. The Union will vigorously defend each officer disciplined. Protesters from Black Lives Matter and the NAACP want the officers fired.