Officers pulled from streets over Facebook postings

Officers pulled from streets over Facebook postings

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis has pulled several police officers off the streets while an internal investigation continues after they were accused of posting objectionable Facebook messages, Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday.

The decision to place the officers on administrative duty follows publication of a database that appears to catalog thousands of bigoted or violent posts by active-duty and former officers in St. Louis and elsewhere. Police departments in at least five states are investigating.

Krewson, in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, called the posts “inappropriate and disturbing.”

The Philadelphia-based Plain View Project tied 22 Facebook accounts with objectionable posts to current St. Louis police officers and 21 to former officers.

Some of the posts tout roughing up protesters or mock foreign accents. Others display the Confederate flag and question whether Black History Month is racist.

Krewson said the officers reassigned to inside work were tied to “the most egregious” of the posts.

“It’s a matter of not interacting with residents and businesses on the street,” she said.

In the wake of the Plain View Project report, St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards announced Tuesday that city police would undergo sensitivity training. Edwards said the training would start next week with the “first-line supervisors” — the 60 to 70 sergeants — and then gradually involve the rest of the department.

On Wednesday, city officials said all 7,200 of St. Louis’ civil service employees would get additional training on discrimination, harassment and social media rules.

Personnel Director Rick Frank said Wednesday that from now on, every city employee would be required to get training once a year that would incorporate social media issues.

Krewson issued this statement Friday:

“These are really inappropriate and disturbing posts. IAD (Internal Affairs Division) has initiated an investigation and there is a process we must follow. As the Chief mentioned today, the punishment for these actions ranges up to and including dismissal. So far, several officers have been placed on administrative duty. Last year all captains and SLMPD leadership attended a 2-day anti-bias/anti-racism training.  We are going to continue that training and also include lieutenants, sergeants, police officers going forward.”