June 20 (UPI) — Police departments in Philadelphia and St. Louis are investigating more than 100 officers over complaints about social media posts that critics say is insensitive at best, and bigoted at worst.
The officers involved are either on a punitive list or administrative leave during the investigations. In Philadelphia, 72 officers have been removed from street duty — as well as nearly 60 in St. Louis.
Investigators are examining the posts, which are said to advocate violence or death against racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. The writings have spurred protests in the cities.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the most severe posts will be weighed first.
“Internal affairs has identified and prioritized the posts clearly advocating violence or death against any protected class,” he told reporters Wednesday. He added discipline could range from suspension to termination.
“[The posts] did tarnish our reputation, but we will work tirelessly to repair that reputation,” Ross added.
Investigators are looking through more than 3,000 questionable posts after a watchdog, the Plain View Project, reviewed thousands posted by officers. They found about 328 active-duty officers involved.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said the officers involved in her city are barred from bringing cases into her office — bringing the total number on the city’s “exclusion list” to 59.
The Plain View Project said it has studied thousands of posts from several jurisdictions across the country, including St. Louis and Philadelphia. It started in 2016 after Philadelphia attorneys learned about a number of questionable posts online.