PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Reactions continue to pour in Tuesday over controversial Facebook posts made by police officers in Phoenix.
On Monday, FOX 10 reported that a group called Plain View Project, started by attorneys out of Philadelphia, looked at eight different departments around the country, including Phoenix. Findings from the research project yielded public Facebook posts that members of the project believe erodes public trust in some police officers.
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."
75 current Phoenix Police officers and 22 former Phoenix Police officers were part of the studies.
"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 Monday. "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."
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, Chief Williams spoke with FOX 10's Matt Galka on the controversy. Chief Williams said she couldn't comment on the individual posts or officers, and couldn't say how many officers were being investigated, but made it a point to say this isn't representative of the Phoenix Police Department.
"I am so embarrassed. It's just not in keeping with the Phoenix Police Department. We work so hard to build trust in the community and statements that I saw in the posts were not in keeping with how we should talk to people racially, ethnically, different religions or sexual orientations, you name it," said Chief Williams.
On Wednesday, Chief Williams spoke about the controversy again, during FOX 10 AZAM.
"Free speech is one component, obviously, in the Constitution, then it talks about losing public trust, disrupting operations. Those are the things we looked at," said Chief Williams. "I do know at the end of the day, we want our officers to be safe. I do know at the end of the day, we want our public to trust us.
Chief Williams said many of the officers will be placed on non-enforcement assignments.
Chief Williams was not the only person who spoke about the controversy. On Tuesday, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego also released a statement on the controversy.
“Some Phoenix Police officers have made highly inflammatory statements on their personal social media pages. I am embarrassed and disappointed to read these comments. There is no context in which these statements are acceptable. This city has absolutely no place for hate. Our Police Chief is actively pursuing a thorough investigation. While these officers are in no way representative of our city’s entire police force, or for that matter, our city, the choice by these officers to promote hate speech is a dark cloud over all of us. Our residents expect our city to provide the same level of service regardless of race, religion, or political beliefs, and we should deliver nothing less.”
Also 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)