7.19.19: Philadelphia – (Politics): Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross yesterday announced that 13 of the 72 cops who were identified by the Plain View Project as making violent and racist Facebook posts will be suspended with an intent to dismiss.
Those dismissed officers will undoubtedly avail themselves of the arbitration process, a legality which in the past has returned disgraced officers back to force often to the chagrin of the police commissioner.
Aware that the police union will pursue this legal option, city officials appear marginally sanguine; or at the very least, they’re prepared and willing to fight to maintain the banishment of the 13 tarnished officers.
“We will do everything we can to be certain that the terminations and the disciplines are upheld,” Mr. Ross told me when I asked whether there are safeguards in place if any or all of the fired cops return.
The police commissioner, who called the scandal which preceded the firing “problematic,” said the department would not just lay down and suggest they’re okay with this cohort of cops regaining their employment.
City Solicitor Marcell Pratt told me that the independent investigation conducted by Ballard Spahr – a law firm contracted by the city’s law department to determine whether the 3100 posts were constitutionally protected – was initiated, in part, as a defense strategy against impending arbitration. The independent constitutional analysis was the right thing to do to ensure the police commissioner has the authority to discipline, Mr. Pratt said.
A total of 328 active Philadelphia police officers were caught up in this Facebook scandal, which became public on June 1st.
By June 19th, the Philadelphia Police Department had benched 72 officers, which the police commissioner said was the largest number of cops whom all at once were placed on administrative duty as an Internal Affairs investigation preceded. IA identified and prioritized those folks who clearly advocated violence or death against any protected class, the police commissioner said.
On Friday, June 28th, all of the 72 officers received the first of six trainings, the inaugural session was eight hours and focused on social media and professionalism. By October, the PPD is expected to commence anti-bias training for the entire force.
Many of the 72 officers will receive discipline consistent with a general violation of the department’s social media directive, with the penalty ranging from a reprimand to a five-day suspension.
A second group of officers posted material that is not only offensive and unprotected, but constitutes a course of conduct which demonstrates the officers have little or no regard for their position, said Mr. Ross. In this group are 17 officers, 13 of whom will be suspended for thirty-days with an intent to dismiss. The remaining four will be suspended for thirty-days.
This remains an open investigation but the police commissioner said it isn’t likely that more terminations will occur. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that while he hasn’t seen all of the posts, of those he’s viewed, their authors deserve no less than to be dismissed from the department.
Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™
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Photo courtesy of the author.