Years of posts have been found criticizing not only the chiefs who took a knee or the officers who marched with the Black Lives Matter protesters, but those who called the protesters “terrorists” or “thugs.” Additionally, members who supported protesters against police brutality, COVID-19 safety rules or Joe Biden were bullied in the group, the AP reported. Among those who were bullied and left the group as a result, an officer said that the Brotherhood Order of the Police endorsement of Trump did not represent her or a black officer. The two officers were reportedly accused of creating a fake Facebook account to complain about the lack of diversity in local departments.
“If you are a law enforcement officer and you kneel or lie down so easily on the ground because of the false story of police brutality, you will one day be executed on your knees or on your stomach without being beaten by the police. same criminals that you are applauding now. to, ”Joe Hoffman, a West Mifflin Borough Police Officer wrote criticizing Webster, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Shaw. Hoffman also referred to the Black Lives Matter organization as “Black Lies Matter”.
But the hatred in the group isn’t just aimed at other officers and Black Lives Matter protesters. In one incident, Lincoln Borough Police Department corporal Tim Huschak posted a screenshot of the Facebook page of an Allegheny County 911 dispatcher, in which the dispatcher noted that the phrase “Blue Lives Matter” is not equivalent to the slogan “Black Lives Matter” because font is a choice, while race is not. Along with the screenshot he said: “Lots of negative messages about the police. And we should trust him for our lives ??? “
After the message, angry members gathered and demanded that the dispatcher be fired. “Several officers should call him and report him. Remember NO JUSTICE NO PEACE LOL, ”West Mifflin Borough Police Department officer Tommy Trieu replied under his Facebook name, Tommy Bear, according to the AP.
Trieu was one of two West Mifflin officers seen on video last year restraining a black teenage girl after responding to a call about a school bus brawl. While calls to fire him and the other agent were widespread, district officials claimed that the recording took place after a student punched an agent and that the agents “therefore did nothing. of badness”.
Speaking to the AP about his comment, Trieu defended him and claimed he only informed other officers that they could grieve the dispatcher’s supervisor if they feared for their safety.
According to the AP, the group’s posts and comments were visible until last week. Since then, the messages have been removed or suspended from view. By the time the media could see the posts and comments, the group numbered around 2,200 members, including at least one judge and one officer adviser.
Not all agents contacted by the PA did not defend their words, but noted that they believed in “law and order,” a phrase Trump has consistently used to spread his hatred and prejudice towards communities. minority – while even describing its support for the proud boys.
Officers not only encouraged the use of lethal force, but shared posts mocking lawmakers because of who they are. In one incident, a transphobic article was published about former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine for her efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Levine, who is transgender, has been referred to as “he,” “that” and “monster,” among other names. In one message, a retired officer even said: “Someone has to shoot this thing !!”
While the group insists that “what happens here, STAYS HERE,” it apparently has no rules about what can be said and does not ban content that is offensive, racist, sexist or threatening.
This is not the first time that concerns about bias on agents’ social media accounts have been raised. Various incidents have been reported in which officers not only shared hateful rhetoric following protests to end police brutality, but also in connection with pro-Trump protests and violence leading Capitol uprising in January. Many of these posts and comments potentially violate departmental social media policies that do not allow for expression of bias or harassment towards others.
A 2019 project, the Simple view project, founded by a group of Philadelphia lawyers, examined the Facebook accounts of at least 2,900 active and 600 retired officers and found that thousands of posts were not only racist and sexist, but advocated police brutality. The group of lawyers then made the database public, noting that these posts have eroded public trust. Although Pittsburgh is not part of the project, city officials have received numerous complaints about agent posts on social media.
“In our view, those who are the subject of decisions made by law enforcement may rightly question whether these online statements about race, religion, ethnicity and acceptability of violent police – among other subjects – inform the behavior of officers in the workplace. and choices, ”the project founders wrote, the AP reported.
Following calls for officers to resign, the Pittsburgh Police Bureau New policy stating that officers may face disciplinary action for sharing “any content containing discourteous or disrespectful remarks … regarding issues of ethnicity, race, religion, sex, gender identity / expression, sexual orientation and / or disability ”.
But revising a department’s social media policy is not enough. Agents need to be accountable for the actions they take, including what they post. In areas intended to protect citizens, prejudice and hatred cannot be tolerated. Officers should not and cannot advocate for violence.
“You know, that doesn’t make it any less upsetting,” said Kyna James, a community organizer at the Alliance for Police Accountability in Pittsburgh. “It’s 2021, and it’s a shame that we’re still here and still facing that.”