The president of the Phoenix police union for rank-and-file officers said Thursday the group is researching a service that would “scrub” an officer’s name from the internet.

The announcement comes in the wake of a Phoenix Police Department investigation into some officers who posted racist and inflammatory commentary on their personal Facebook accounts.

Michael “Britt” London, the president for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, made the announcement in an uploaded video with updates for union members on the group’s Facebook page.

“The Facebook investigation is still current, still going on,” London said in the video, adding that someone associated with the union “has contacted a service that will scrub your name from the Internet. It’s more of a security and privacy type thing.”

He said in the video that the service could cost $3 a month but the union is still working on a deal. He directed members to call the union or visit a union members-only Facebook account to get more information.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for Phoenix police, said in a Thursday email to The Arizona Republic the investigation into the Facebook posts is still under investigation by the department. 

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a statement that a labor organization has the legal right to communicate with its members. She said this won’t affect the investigation.

“Questions about the actions of those organizations should be directed to them,” she said in the statement. “The Professional Standards Bureau has confirmed that this action by one of our labor organizations will have no adverse impact on the current investigation into social-media posts, which is still ongoing.”

London said in a statement the service is not to hide anything but to protect the privacy of officers and their loved ones from the public. 

“The need for this service is to prevent the ongoing and frequent harassment of officers and their loved ones – harassment that is happening daily and that puts officers and their families at risk,” the statement says. “This has nothing to do with hiding or ignoring anything. It has everything to do with keeping police officers and their families safe from those who continue to attack them online.”

97 Phoenix officers identified 

In June, the Plain View Project, launched by Philadelphia lawyer Emily Baker-White, created a database of public Facebook posts and comments made by current and former police officers from several jurisdictions across the United States, including Phoenix.

The database shows hundreds of officers across the country posted racist or misogynistic statements or condoned violence on their Facebook accounts.

The project examined the accounts of about 2,900 officers. It reviewed the accounts of an additional 600 retired police officers.

It found 179 questionable posts from 97 current and former Phoenix officers. Many endorsed violence, in some cases against Mexicans, Muslims, women and criminal defendants.

BuzzFeed News and the nonprofit news organization Injustice Watch initially reported the story. 

Union defends the officers

The Phoenix officer union, also known as PLEA, has previously defended the officers identified in the database.

“People — including cops — say things they regret or that are unfortunate,” London has previously said. “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 front lines in Phoenix every day.”

At the time, he also said police officers have used Facebook to raise money for officers who have died in the line of duty and support Phoenix residents, and the investigation didn’t highlight those posts.

“Every day, we use social media to better connect and better understand our city,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the hunt for a 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.”

‘Congratulation George Zimmerman’

Many of the Phoenix officers’ posts in the database endorsed violence, in some cases against Mexicans, Muslims, women and criminal defendants.

Phoenix Police Officer Joshua Ankert, who has been with the department since 2007, wrote, “CONGRATULATIONS GEORGE ZIMMERMAN!!! Thank you for cleaning up our community one thug at a time,” in July 2013, the day after a jury in Florida acquitted Zimmerman of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager.

Phoenix Officer Ryan Nielsen, a 15-year veteran, wrote a Facebook post on March 2010 complaining about his “ghetto neighbors” having a party and making a lot of noise.

In the comment exchange with someone else, Nielsen wrote that he planned to buy a shotgun but that his AR — presumably referring to the AR-15 firearm — would help protect his house. He also said in the comment section that he may call the Sheriff’s Office and report the residence may be a drop house, a term used by law enforcement to describe a property where smugglers house undocumented immigrants as they await payments.

Officer David Pallas, who has been with the department since 1987, uploaded a meme on June 2016 critical of the Obamas. The meme depicts Michelle Obama with a quote that says, “Every single day I wake up in a house that was built by slaves…” Underneath it, there’s a picture of famed actor John Wayne with a caption that says, “THEN GET OUT! AND TAKE YOUR GAY MUSLIM HUSBAND WITH YOU.”

That same month, Pallas posted another meme depicting the Quran with a caption that read, “HOW ABOUT BANNING THIS. IT OFFENDS ME!!”

Among the retired Phoenix police officers listed in the database was Stephen Wamsley, who teaches a police-science class at Moon Valley High School.

Posts from Wamsley’s account celebrated instances of violence against criminals and suspects. One referred to a shootout between biker gangs as “thinning the herd” and called for more violent executions and less humane treatments of death row inmates.

“Let’s go back to the firing squad,” one post said. “Why don’t we sell tickets and give the proceeds to the (victim’s) family?” Other posts contain Islamophobic rhetoric, including two promoting “crusades.”  

Reuben Carver III, who has been with the department since 2002, wrote a Facebook post on March 16, 2011, that said, “Its a good day for a choke hold.”


Some of the recorded 911 calls, released by the Phoenix Police Department, include threats against the lives of officers.
William Flannigan, azcentral

‘Nazi pigs’

Early this month, police released 911 calls in which callers made threatening comments to officers after a Phoenix police encounter went viral. Some of the callers vowed to kill the officers involved in the video and called them “Nazi pigs,” among other epithets. 

Police have said they are also investigating these calls.

The bystander video that spurred the calls shows Phoenix officers pointing guns and yelling threats at Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, and their two young daughters after the couple said their 4-year-old daughter took a doll from a Family Dollar store.

‘Shocked at the posts’

The Phoenix Police Department’s social media policy tells employees to be cautious of their “speech and related activity on social media sites” because it “may be considered a reflection upon their position, and, in some instances, this Department.”

It goes on to say that, “Employees are prohibited from using social media in a manner that would cause embarrassment to or discredit the department in any way.”

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has pulled some officers off of their “enforcement assignments” because of the Facebook posts identified in the database.

“When I started looking more at the posts, I’ll be honest with you, I was shocked,” Williams said shortly after the database was made public. “Shocked at the posts and the comments that clearly promoted and created hate and dissension.”

Uriel Garcia covers public-safety issues in Arizona. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg. Support local journalism. Subscribe to today.


Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams talks about offensive Facebook posts written by current and former officers that were found in a review.
Sean Logan, The Republic |

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