PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- A new report has uncovered some insensitive and racially charged posts on some police officers' Facebook pages.
The Plain View Project, started by attorneys out of Philadelphia, looked at eight different departments around the country, including Phoenix. Their findings: public Facebook posts the project believes erodes public trust in some police officers. An example of the posts in questions include one that congratulated George Zimmerman for "cleaning up the community by getting rid of a thug", a post sympathizing with slavery, a meme alluding to not providing emergency help, a meme showing former First Lady Michelle Obama and John Wayne, with the text under Wayne calling Former President Barack Obama a "gay Muslim", and a meme showing protestors being pepper sprayed at point blank range with the text "just watering my hippies."
The posts were compiled by the Plain View Project, in an effort to document social media posts from law enforcement around the country. According to officials with the project, all the posts mentioned above came from current Phoenix Police officers.
"Those statements, which are public Facebook posts, show a bias of violence in American policing that I have found really alarming," said Emily Baker-White with the Plain View Project, in an interview via Facetime. Baker-White said the posts create a problem with public trust.
"My biggest fear in this project is that someone, when they're in danger, won't pick up the phone and call 911 or won't approach a police officer on the street, because they worry a police officer will not be in their corner because they're in a minority faith or minority religion," said Baker-White.
People on the streets of Phoenix said they feel it was OK to hold police officers accountable for what they say on social media.
"I think it's our responsibility to review people of very important jobs," said one person,
"To work at my job. I get social media checked, things like that, so I don't see why it wouldn't be reviewed for every other job in America," said another person.
Officials with the Phoenix Police Department responded to the project in a statement, saying they know about it, and they have cleared at least one officer. They are also looking into the other posts from the report.
On Monday night, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams issued a statement on the posts.
"I became aware of the entire website today which alleges misconduct by current and former Phoenix Police officers. The language and terminology used in the posts are embarrassing and disturbing. They completely contradict how the Phoenix Police Department should speak about the members of our community or others. Nor are these posts in keeping with our mission and values as City of Phoenix employees. I have high expectations for the men and women who work with me. When potential misconduct is brought to my attention, it is immediately addressed. I have asked our Professional Standards Bureau to look further into this matter."
On Tuesday, Britt London, the President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) issued a statement on the controversy.
"It's no surprise that an anti-police organization that spent months combing hundreds of thousands of Facebook posts made by Phoenix police officers over many years would find a fraction of these posts to be offensive. Social media is a free for all. People -- including cops -- say things they regret or that are unfortunate. But to judge an entire police department by a few social media posts is doing a grave disservice to the nearly 3,000 sworn officers who work the frontlines in Phoenix every day.
Over the years, Phoenix cops -- like everyone else -- have made thousands of positive Facebook posts. We've raised money for our fallen brothers and sisters and used Facebook to support every area of the city and Phoenicians of every color and creed. Every day, we use social media to better connect and better understand our city. Unfortunately, in the hunt for negative spin, this anti-police group ignored all that in favor of absolute sensationalism.
Their bias says far more about them than it does the police officers they’ve chosen to target."
Plain View Project database on police officer Facebook posts (Discretion Advised)