Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine M. Coulter said Tuesday that 15 police officers had been suspended with intent to dismiss for making racist or offensive Facebook posts — two more than the Police Department had announced in July when officials revealed the first wave of discipline over a scandal that attracted national attention.
Speaking to City Council members during a hearing on the matter, Coulter also said that Internal Affairs had investigated 343 officers for their social media activity, more than the 328 active cops whose posts were cataloged on the Plain View Project database, published in June by advocates studying police bias. Coulter said that “additional violators” had been discovered during the department’s investigation of the posts in the database.
The acting commissioner did not identify any of the officers who were suspended with intent to dismiss, but said in her prepared remarks that 11 of the 15 facing termination had resigned before they could be fired.
Some Council members complained that those cops would be able to walk away and retain their pensions; Coulter said the benefit of resignations is that those officers cannot challenge their departures through arbitration.
The police officers’ union has said it believes any firings over the Facebook posts would be “completely out of bounds.”
Coulter and Managing Director Brian Abernathy criticized the posts and lamented that the scandal had eroded trust between the Police Department and city residents.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass, however, was among those who said they believed the posts — some of which expressed support for police violence or used demeaning language about race or religion — reflected an attitude by police familiar to many city residents. “The idea that this is a revelation of some sort ... is extremely disturbing to me,” Bass said.
Bass also called on Coulter to resign over wearing a shirt in the 1990s that appeared to refer to the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King. Coulter, who has said she never interpreted the shirt as a reference to the assault, began the hearing by apologizing for having worn the shirt.
Here are some highlights about the Police Department’s disciplinary actions regarding the Facebook scandal, as presented in Coulter’s prepared remarks: