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June 13, 2019

Dozens more Philly police reportedly taken off streets amid social media investigation

Investigations Social Media
 Philadelphia Police Car Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice Staff

A Philadelphia Police Department cruiser.

The number of Philadelphia police officers put on desk duty is up to 50 this week, as officials investigate whether the social media posts of hundreds of the department's officers' contained racist, violent, or offensive content.

Multiple reports say that the number of officers who were taken off the streets and put on desk duty this month increased from 10 to 50however the Philadelphia Police Department has not officially confirmed this statistic.

"As we said from the onset — after saying we had taken 10 off the street – the number might grow throughout the investigation," a spokesperson for the PPD said in a statement to NBC. "We will not be commenting on anything that might compromise the ability to effectively conduct the investigation – including a statistic that is subject to change."

The Philadelphia NAACP has called for the officers to be fired after a lengthy Buzzfeed investigation reported on the findings of Philadelphia lawyer Emily Baker-White who had examined the social media accounts of about 2,900 officers around the U.S. and published them on the The Plain View Project.

The project found that about 1 in 5 active cops and 2 in 5 retired officers made public posts or comments on Facebook that displayed bias, applauded violence, scoffed at due process, or used dehumanizing language, Buzzfeed reported.

In Philadelphia, Baker-White found that out of about 6,600 officers in the city's police department, 1,073 had been identified on Facebook. And of those who could be identified, one third had made troubling posts or comments. 

Last week, the Inquirer reported that, after the NAACP called for an investigation, 10 officers were placed on desk duty who exhibited explicit bias on social media.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the entire force would undergo anti-bias training. An unnamed law firm will be conducting an independent investigation of the Facebook posts and comments. 

The Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has called the investigation "overly-broad." 

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