Dallas, TX – The Dallas Police Department announced Thursday that 13 officers have been disciplined for making social media posts that violated police department policy.
Dallas police began an internal investigation of officers’ social media postings and comments in July of 2019 after the Plain View Project (PVP), a research enterprise launched by Injustice Watch, identified thousands of Facebook posts made by police officers nationwide that could potentially offend somebody.
The internal affairs division reviewed Dallas cops’ Facebook posts from 2010 to 2019, with special attention paid to 169 officers who were highlighted in the PVP report, KTVT reported.
Sixty of those officers were no longer with the Dallas PD, but internal affairs investigated the 445 social media posts or comments made by the remaining 109 officers on the list.
Although the department found no issue with many of the suspect posts, the Internal Affairs Division identified 13 officers in need of additional training in cultural awareness and the use of social media, KTVT reported.
“Every action by a Dallas Police Officer impacts our relationships with our entire community,” Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall in a statement. “It is imperative that we operate with the highest level of ethics and integrity to ensure that the public is confident in the legitimacy of who we are as a law enforcement agency.”
Chief Hall handed down discipline to the 13 officers that ranged from documented counseling to suspensions without pay, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The Dallas PD’s social media policy says officers “are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites” but their posts and comments may not “impair working relationships of the Department, impede the performance of their duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, or negatively affect the public perception of the Department.”
Dallas police said the internal affairs investigation into the posts has not been concluded, KTVT reported.
The department said command staff were still working on ongoing investigations involving two more officers.
Dallas PD was one of seven police departments the PVP specifically highlighted as having a social media problem, KTVT reported.
The PVP database included breakout sections for four major cities – Philadelphia, Dallas, St. Louis, and Phoenix – and three smaller towns including York, Pennsylvania, Twin Falls, Idaho, and Denison, Texas.
The Philadelphia Police Department put 72 officers on administrative leave after the PVP released its findings.
They ultimately fired 13 officers in July of 2019 for the social media posts or comments.
Later the same month, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department suspended 22 officers for offensive social media postings after they shared images of the “Blue Line Punisher” to their pages.
Although the Punisher logo is associated with the Marvel comic character of the same name, for law enforcement officers and the military it serves as a morale symbol that’s otherwise unrelated to the anti-hero comic character.
The image Phoenix officers shared included the badge number of fallen North County Police Officer Michael Langsdorf, who was murdered in the line of duty in June of 2018 while responding to a convenience store for a report about a bad check.
Dallas PD’s announcement of the disposition of the 13 social media investigation came less than a week after 20 former vice squad officers were suspended without pay for failing to account for money they won in gambling stings, KUT reported.
No charges have been filed against those officers in connection with the alleged mishandling of cash and evidence, KERA reported.