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Reactions pour in amidst ongoing controversy over social media posts made by officers

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.

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.

Also on Tuesday, Britt London, the President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) issued a statement on the controversy.

Plain View Project database on police officer Facebook posts (Discretion Advised)
https://www.plainviewproject.org/data