Officials: 72 Phila. police officers placed on administrative duty during social media investigation

PHILADELPHIA (FOX 29) - Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed that 72 police officers have been placed on administrative duty during an ongoing investigation into alleged racist and inappropriate social media posts made by officers on the force.

The officers placed on administrative leave have been removed of their guns and will not be on patrol duty as the investigation ensues, Commissioner Ross explained.

The Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) is investigating each of the officers identified and is examining approximately 3,100 total posts by the officers involved. Officials from the IAB are determining whether posts made by these officers' warrant discipline or a complete removal from the force.

Each officer's social media posts will be handled according to the severity of the posts, according to officials.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Police Department is consulting a law firm to ensure that the posts made by each officer are constitutionally protected.

If the independent law firm finds that posts made by the officers are protected by the First Amendment, no further action will be taken. However, if any of the posts are not protected by the First Amendment then officials will address that infraction accordingly.

In the meantime, the Philadelphia Police Department has rolled out anti-bias/anti-racism training, training on social media policies, and other matters to ensure that officers are properly instructed on department standards.

Current policies on social media will also be reviewed.

The police commissioner could not confirm if the current number of 72 officers would increase but asked for patience as the investigation continues.

"I'm telling you that there are many, many thousands who don't think like this, who would actually never engage in this type of thought and behavior," Commissioner Ross stated.

He did express contempt for the "disgusting nature" of the posts and the concern about policing the posts indicated.

"It makes me sick, to be honest with you, it really makes me sick, becasue we are in a position to know better," Ross said.

As the public became aware of the news of the Philadelphia Police officers' involvement, a rally was held outside of the police headquarters.

The group called for the officers to be removed from the force.

In accordance with the backlash, the NAACP released a statement on the matter.

"They're not only bold but more tragic than that, they feel that they're in an environment where they have a comfort level now that they can do this kind of thing on a public platform, and there are no consequences, and that's where we're calling on the high command," explained Minister Rodney Muhammad, Philadelphia's NAACP president.