Phoenix Police Chief ‘Shocked’ By Hate Speech Alleged In Officer’s Facebook Posts

By Tom Maxedon, Mariana Dale, Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Monday, June 3, 2019 - 6:34pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 10:42am

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Chief Jeri Williams
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri Williams.

An investigation into the Facebook posting habits of officers around the country shows some disturbing trends.

The Plain View Project counted 282 posts with racist and violent language identified as being connected to Phoenix police officers currently serving or who formerly served on the force.

“I’ll be honest, I was shocked,” Chief Jeri Williams said. “All caps, SHOCKED. Because the memes, the posts were pure hate speech.”

Williams said a small number of officers implicated in the posts have been removed from duties where they interact with the public while the department conducts an internal investigation.

“If this is true, I won’t tolerate it, and to be honest with you, the community shouldn’t tolerate it either,” Williams said.

The investigative story was co-published by Injustice Watch and BuzzFeed News.

Emily Baker-White, executive director of the Plain View Project and an attorney, said posts like ones made by Phoenix police Officer Reuben Carver III in 2011 suggesting “Its a good day for a choke hold” are alarming.   

“That gives me grave pause about whether people who are accused of crimes who have not yet had access to due process are safe in the hands of our public officials,” she said.   

Sgt. Vincent Lewis with the Phoenix Police Department released an email statement responding to KJZZ's inquiry involving Carver’s post.

“This particular inquiry was reviewed by our Professional Standards Bureau and did not rise to the level of misconduct on the part of the employee. The department is aware of the remaining report now available to us online and will be looking into other potential misconduct by current employees,” Lewis said.

He also referred the public to review the Phoenix Police Department policy, which is publicly available online at phoenix.gov/police under the Operations Orders tab.

The department’s social media policy covers both professional and personal use.

The latter policy prohibits social media posts that “impair working relationships of this Department, are detrimental to the mission and functions of the Department, that undermine respect or public confidence in the Department, cause embarrassment to the Department or City, discredit the Department or City, or undermine the goals and mission of the Department or City. “

“We work so hard to build the trust that we have,” Williams said. “You call us when you’re having the absolute worst day of your life.”

A report released in April showed the Phoenix Police Department had the most fatal officer-involved shootings in the country in 2018.

KJZZ’s Mariana Dale joined The Show to talk about this report. Chief Jeri Williams also joined The Show to talk about her reaction to this.

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