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Private Facebook posts in police groups show hateful messages

The group made the database public, saying the posts eroded the public’s trust.

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Mount Pleasant Township Police Chief Lou McQuillan answers the door at the municipal building in Hickory, Pa., on Monday, March 15, 2021. McQuillan, who recently announced he is running for a vacant magisterial district judge post, was listed as one of four administrators of a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom. Many current and retired officers who are in the group spent the year criticizing chiefs that took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, who they called “terrorists,” or “thugs.” (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A recent report from the Associated Press outlines a disturbing pattern of hostility and hateful rhetoric over several civil injustices spanning across years in “private” police social media groups.

According to reports, several dozen of the private groups on social media consists of current and former police officers, including police chiefs and other high-ranking members in law enforcement in smaller and larger cities.

Mount Pleasant Township Police Chief Lou McQuillan, who recently announced he is running for a vacant magisterial district judge post, was listed as one of the Facebook group’s four administrators.

McQuillan posted an article in June 2017 about a civil settlement being reached in the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, remarking on how the amount of the award was determined. In his article, McQuillan wrote, “future earnings? lol What about Ofc Wilson? What about his lost earnings? Joke.”

The groups did not only post about racial injustice; they have also attacked or harassed anyone who doesn’t share their views on a gambit of different topics such as anti-policing reform, the LGBT community, and Biden policies.

Dozens of members, many retired or no longer in law enforcement, fueled days of transphobic posts about former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine for her role in statewide social-distancing mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19, according to the report.

Levine, who is transgender, has since been tapped by Biden to be assistant health secretary.

In 2019 the Plain View Project, founded by a group of Philadelphia attorneys, released a database of similar posts from officers in departments around the country. The findings examined Facebook accounts of 2,900 active and 600 retired officers, finding thousands of racist, sexist posts or posts advocating police brutality.

The group made the database public, saying the posts eroded the public’s trust.

Many counties and cities are looking to implement drastic changes to their social media policies, explicitly stating that officers may face disciplinary action for sharing “any content involving discourteous or disrespectful remarks … about issues of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, and/or disability.”

For the full report and findings, visit apnews.com.