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The Latest: Union official criticizes social media probe

June 20, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on Philadelphia police officers’ social media posts (all times local):

10:40 p.m.

A Philadelphia police union official says Police Commissioner Richard Ross’ comments about expecting officers to be fired over social media posts are “premature and irresponsible” without a complete investigation.

Ross says 72 Philadelphia police officers have been placed on administrative duty amid an initial investigation into a national group’s accusation of officers in several states posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

Ross said he believed at least “several dozen” people would be disciplined and he expects some to be fired.

Philadelphia police union President John McNesby says officers “are entitled to due process just like any other citizen.”

He says the Fraternal Order of Police will support and represent officers during the investigation.

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6:40 p.m.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross says 72 Philadelphia police officers have been placed on administrative duty amid an initial investigation into a national group’s accusation of officers in several states posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

Ross said he believed at least “several dozen” people would be disciplined and he expects some to be fired. The commissioner said the internal affairs division prioritized posts “clearly advocating violence or death against any protected class such as ethnicity, national origin, sex, religion and race.” An independent law firm had been hired to determine whether posts were constitutionally protected before any discipline is imposed.

The posts were uncovered by a team of researchers who spent two years looking at the personal Facebook accounts of police officers from Arizona to Florida.

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