In Dallas, Texas, police officials have confirmed that a whopping 25 officers are under investigation and may face disciplinary action. Why? The officers posted offensive or bigoted materials on Facebook, which along with being gross, is also a violation of the department’s conduct code. The Dallas Police Department explicitly bans officers from posting anything that could be considered “discriminatory” or “biased.”
An example of one of these gross violations? Mocking protesters who have been pepper-sprayed… And joking about people who had been shot by police. And don’t forget: In general, cops in the U.S. shoot and kill people way more frequently than police in other countries. It’s also pretty indisputable that racism is a component of police brutality—people of color, and especially black men, have disproportionately high rates of police brutality.
On Friday, an internal review of the allegations and evidence determined that the 25 officers in question either posted or shared this sort of material. Yikes! As of now, four of those 25 officers have been placed on leave.
How did this come about? Thank The Plain View Project, launched by Emily Baker-White, a Philadelphia-based lawyer. Last month, the researchers—who compiled this data over a two-year period—, released a database that (basically) organized thousands of disturbing posts (often violent or prejudiced) made by cops in a handful of states in the United States. The Dallas Police Department (among others), began reviewing officers’ online posts after this catalog was released.
And yes, of the thousands of posts cataloged, they were all public. Which makes one wonder what people are posting under more controlled settings.
In terms of large-scale findings (meaning beyond just the Dallas area), The Plain View Project determined that one out of five current officers routinely posts violent and racist information on their Facebook. And for retired officers? That number jumps to two in five.
Outside of Dallas, this catalog features information on a few other major cities. These cities include St. Louis; Philadelphia; York; Phoenix; Twin Falls; Lake County, Florida; and Denison.
And this isn’t the only department impacted by The Plain View Project’s amazing research. Earlier in June, officers in both St. Louis and Philadelphia were placed on desk duty because of findings released in the report. In Philadelphia, this led to 72 officers being put on desk duty. Over 1,000 officers in the city were found, by the report, to have posted offensive content.
This research became so popular, it actually got covered on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah:
And again, in Philadelphia, people protested after the results came out last month:
Here’s the database, if you want to check it out for yourself.