Hundreds Of Cops Under Investigation After Watchdog Complains About Police Memes

The database created by the Plain View Project and Injustice Watch showed that many officers have dark senses of humor.

Chicago, IL - BuzzFeed News acted as if they broke a big story on June 1 when the publication reported that many police officers all across the United States have dark, maybe even warped, senses of humor that many sensitive people find offensive.

Their proof: Hundreds of humorous memes and comments posted to Facebook by law enforcement officers attempting to boost morale or vent their frustrations about policing in millennial America that offended researchers' sensibilities.

BuzzFeed’s source for this bombshell was the Plain View Project (PVP), a research enterprise launched by Injustice Watch to identify thousands of Facebook posts made by police officers nationwide that might offend somebody.

Injustice Watch is a non-profit organization that considers itself the legacy of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law and Northwestern University’s Medill Watchdog program, according to its website.

Its mission statement said the organization is made up of a team of “highly accomplished investigative reporters, full-time reporting fellows, and talented interns” and claims to combine “data journalism with conventional reporting to delve far deeper into crucial criminal and social justice issues than can traditional news organizations.”

Since its launch in the fall of 2017, PVP has been scouring the Internet for any hint of offense in any post or comment by any user they could identify as a police officer, active duty and retired.

Then they created a database of more than 5,000 Facebook posts they felt “could undermine public trust and confidence in police," according to their website.

A quick scroll through the database made it abundantly clear that PVP’s researchers did not appreciate “cop humor” in any form.

PVP found numerous “cop humor” memes that they determined were offensive, but they also targeted posts sharing news that the researchers found offensive.

The standards by which the posts were selected weren’t clearly defined but a deep dive into the database by Blue Lives Matter showed they were as inclusive as possible.

Our research showed that PVP placed officers in their database for sharing articles with which the researchers disagreed, even if the original poster had made no remarks and nobody had commented.

PVP also mined posts that had snarky comments that could be construed as offensive by some readers.

The database allows you to click on any given post and see available information about not only the law enforcement officer who posted it, but also those officers who commented on it, including their badge number and salary.

Each page offers a button that allows horrified readers to share the details of the posts directly to social media.

As if the attempted public shaming of law enforcement officers nationwide wasn’t satisfying enough, Injustice Watch took PVP’s research a step further.

Injustice Watch cross-referenced the database of posts PVP found offensive against lists of officers who had police brutality or civil rights complaints against them, BuzzFeed reported.

They also looked for officers who have had one or more federal civil rights lawsuits and whose Facebook posts had appeared on PVP’s list.

In the many cases, the organization was able to match up offensive posts with numerous officers for whom cities had paid thousands of dollars in settlements.

The 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.

Injustice Watch contacted many of those police departments directly, initiating internal affairs investigations that will end up costing them in money and manpower by the time they’re finished.

What PVP and Injustice Watch did not take into account in their research was the fact that first responders in general are known for their gallows humor.

Numerous studies have shown that humor helps police officers to show up every day and do a job that is often dark and disturbing.

“Emergency workers frequently find themselves in unpleasant and unpredictable situations at odds with the heroic status and image presented in television dramas,” said Dr. Sarah Charman, an expert with the University of Portsmouth (UK) Institute of Criminal Justice Studies.

Charman has extensively studied the dark humor of police and medics, according to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

“They regularly deal with death or near-death. They face messy and mortifying situations the rest of us never have to encounter,” she said. “By normalising a situation through humour, a stressful encounter can be made more manageable - humour allows people to control feelings of fear or vulnerability.”

Rolf Granér, an associate professor at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden, studied police humor and said it’s part of the “us against them” mentality for a professional that is frequently unpopular with the people they encounter in the course of their work, ScienceNordic reported.

Granér summarized his findings for a Nordic police research publication and said he found that gallows humor helped officers deal with the drama of traumatic events and distance themselves.

He said that dry, cynical language was a defense mechanism against getting too involved in the misery and suffering they witness on daily basis, ScienceNordic reported.

The study noted that police humor is often directed at other people.

Police “make jokes about people they meet in their work, including suspects and annoying bystanders. It creates a distance,” Granér said.

Regardless of the findings of experts who’ve studied how humor can positively impact first responders, Injustice Watch wanted to see the authors of the posts in the PVP database officially punished for offending them.

In Philadelphia, for example, Injustice Watch shared seven specific names with officials at the Philadelphia Police Department.

Philadelphia PD opened up an investigation based on the information, BuzzFeed reported.

“We have reviewed the social media transcriptions you provided, and find many of them to be not only incongruent with our standards and policies, but also troubling on a human level,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said in a statement.

That investigation will likely result in new social media policies for the department and may possibly force the early retirements of a number of highly-qualified officers whose knowledge is desperately needed by the beleaguered police department even if officials don’t appreciate their off-duty senses of humor.

Perhaps more surprising than the posts PVP found offensive is the fact that so many police officers nationwide have failed to take advantage of Facebook privacy settings that would have prevented PVP from finding their posts and putting them on the list of offenders.

And even if an officer has locked down his or her own Facebook page, a carelessly posted snarky comment on the wide-open page of a colleague was enough to get them – and their salary information – listed in the PVP database.

Philadelphia police aren’t the only officers feeling the backlash.

BuzzFeed reported that Phoenix police, St. Louis police, and Dallas police have also opened investigations based on the social media posts reported to them by Injustice Watch.

Even retired officers noted in the database aren't off the hook. Soon a search of the PVP database will be standard for all background investigations, including post-retirement careers.

Before too long, however, PVP’s database may become more a mark of a seasoned law enforcement officer than a scarlet letter.

Its overly-broad and not-clearly-defined criteria mean the database was subject to the personal biases of its creators and is completely unreliable, except as a political litmus test.

For example, a single appearance of the popular Punisher skull graphic was enough to get many officers added to the database.

Although many associate the Punisher logo with the Marvel comic character of the same name, for law enforcement officers and the military it serves as a warning to the bad guys that the good guys are coming for them.

PVP and Injustice Watch find that message offensive.

Comments (84)
No. 1-33
Mig Alley
Mig Alley

I'm offended!!!!!

Gerne
Gerne

So they're only joking about racism and violence, just a little "gallows humor" to blow off steam? Just more proof the police lie as easily and often as normal humans breathe.

johnnycab23513
johnnycab23513

How do these unofficial, leftist groups obtain the private information of police officers? It sure seems crimes have been committed here, and not by police officers! An investigation is in order!

Tmorh
Tmorh

First off how did they get access to all Fb data and allow this group to mine it?

JBo
JBo

Every occupation in this country that is high stress, dangerous, life altering or a combat arms job has their own sense of macabre humor. It how we deal with stress. Doctors and nurses have the same thing. Firefighters and EMTs also have to let off steam. Those who sit behind a desk and pontificate about the ghoulish humor and political incorrectness of those who hold dangerous and vital jobs that others prefer to leave to the alphas of the country, you'll never understand. Best just to move on to a topic that you do understand: self aggrandizement.

You haven't seen the things we have, you haven't had the nightmares we have, you haven't dealt with the scum of the earth every day as we have. You haven't done a damn thing except criticize.

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

If you haven't walked in our shoes stfu ! The following is what we deal with on a day to day basis ! Damn straight we have a different sense of humor.....at least we HAVE ONE !

I have pulled dead, mangled bodies from cars.. I have lied to people as they were dying. I said you are going to be fine as I held their hand and watched the life fade out. I have held dying babies. Bought lunch for people who were mentally ill and haven't eaten in a while. I have had people try to stab me. Fought with men trying to shoot me. Ben attacked by women who have had the shit kicked out of them by their husband as I was arresting him. I have held towels on bullet wounds. Done CPR when I knew it wouldn't help just to make family members feel better. I have torn down doors, fought in drug houses. Chased fugitives though the woods. I have been in high speed car chases. Foot chases across an interstate during rush hour traffic. I have been in crashes. Been squeezing the trigger about to kill a man when they came to their senses and stopped. Waded through large angry crowds by myself. Drove like a mad man to help a fellow officer. Let little kids who don't have much sit in my patrol car and pretend they are a cop for their birthday. I have taken a lot of people to jail. Given many breaks. Prayed for people I don't even know. Yes and at times I have been "violent" when I had to be. I have been kind when I could.. I admit I have drove to some dark place and cried by myself when I was overwhelmed. I have missed Christmas and other holidays more than I wanted too. Every cop I know has done all these things and more for lousy pay, suckie hours and a short life expectancy. We don't want your pity, I don't care for your respect. Just let us do our jobs without killing us.. please. Thank you..

Annies Mom
Annies Mom

Vastly amused. I would have shared any one of these memes.

yelyana
yelyana

Seems like this committee is made up of people who have never seen 'real life' and avoid common sense at all costs.

Bstn
Bstn

People are too easily offended now a days, How about if you dont like a meme or a post you move along. Unless it has your name in it, it doesnt refer or pertain to you as an individual so get over it.
And to these police agencies who are actually investigating & planning on punishing their officers for memes or jokes, Im appalled because each and every one of you, if worked the streets on patrol or detectives, have had exact same MORBID, OFF COLOR sense of humor, please dont forget that. Stop catering to panies who just get offended at everything & anything cops say or do on or off the job, we historically have warped senses of humor, if cops didnt theyd quit, end up in the looney bin or end their lives, their senses of humor is their sheild from the horrors & BS they deal with on a daily basis. The Chiefs need to tell this group to suck it!

Do-The-Job-Right
Do-The-Job-Right

Good!

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

Cops have dark humor? You don’t say....hahahahahahaha

Forevrblue
Forevrblue

I have been told I have a warped,twisted,dark sense of humor many times but, if they can see what I have seen, it would give them nightmares!!

Da$
Da$

Investigate the investigators!

Doty911
Doty911

Who cares. They are just meme, nothing racist or criminal.

ripsi
ripsi

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT'S HOLY.....MEMES!!!! HOW DARE THEY MEME AT THE SNOWFLAKES!!!

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

These memes are just plain funny...they are not dark, racist or any such thing. Just some funny shit that is basically the truth. Fucking snowflakes.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Baker-White said three major trends emerged in the posts she and her colleagues collected: posts that seemed to endorse violence by officers or members of the public, posts that appeared to show bias against minority groups, and dehumanizing language that referred to protesters or people of color as “animals” or “savages.”

“One of the most disheartening things in the posts we saw are the comments under them,” Baker-White said. “Some of them are by citizens, and some are by police officers. There’s very much a pile-on culture, where someone may say something violent and the folks under that will ramp it up and say something even more violent or discriminatory. The feedback loop there has led a lot of people to lean into their worst instincts."

She said she was pleased that departments were reacting to the Plain View Project, but she wanted to see substantial change.

“I hope that police departments make changes to increase accountability,” Baker-White said, “but also to try to shift culture.”

tfort
tfort

Here is an idea, don’t be racist and wish the wish harm on the citizens and you will not be under investigation. It’s really simple.

AbbiRN
AbbiRN

How is this not malicious doxing?

katqui4853
katqui4853

I absolutely love these memes. I understand that this is just a way of letting off steam. Now let's try investigating the people who release private, personal information to an idiot organization such as this. And all you top brass who are wanting to investigate and punish the officers for posting on their own private accounts need to be replaced as evidently you have no backbone and should not be in the position you are in!! There is a name for people like you, it is panty-waist cowards, because you won't stand up and protect your own!!

VicG
VicG

Oh Boo Hoo. Your offended? Go home to yer mama...

Stanracer
Stanracer

Sure, let's just stomp all over the constitutional rights of LEO's to free speech and freedom of expression. This is completl

Stanracer
Stanracer

Sure....lets just stomp all over the constitutional rights of LEO's freedom of speech and freedom of expression. This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. If people are offended that easily then they needed it. These PVP and Injustice Watch nutjobs should be ashamed of themselves. Surely they have better things to do than to make a very tough job even tougher. Hopefully there are multiple lawsuits against them over this nonsense.

Caroparks53
Caroparks53

One more example of leftwing morons trying to end freedom of speech. People better wake up..soon..

BlueProtects
BlueProtects

Attacking these Cops for posting already posted memes is invading there 1st Amendment Rights. To rightfully go after the Cops you woud have to go after everyone else that posted these. The memes tell the truth. I have an idea why don't these hmm liberal snowflakes help law enforcement stop these law breakers in these memes then there wouldn't be any reason to post the memes. As far as the ones to encourage more support to stop the criminals I think in reality it's long over due.

magnumforc
magnumforc

Snowflake assholes who are offended at every turn. Maybe a nuclear war in the future wouldn't be as bad as we thought....those who prepare may survive and those who don't will...melt.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

So cops and retirees no longer have First Amendment Rights?

BlueLM101
BlueLM101

Some of these memes are great! I don't know what the problem is?!?! Oh wait, Snowflakes. Ya know, I'm offended by them. Does my opinion matter?

Astroserf
Astroserf

I thought it is illegal to DOXX people. How is this any different?

Maxximus One
Maxximus One

Everybody thinks they have it hard. So many damn victims on all sides. Just do it right and they'll be no problem. Treat yourself well even when others don't.

Remember....Attitude is a choice, so pick a good one.

LPD133
LPD133

Snowflakes are just regular flakes....without a sense of humor.

Janken
Janken

There are so many idiots out there that think they are offended. I think humor helps. If you cant laugh about yourself then you are a loser. I DON'T CARE WHAT THE POLICE DO THEY HAVE TO PUT UP WITH SO MANY IDIOTS THAT THE IDIOTS DESERVE WHAT EVER TREATMENT IS DOLD OUT. Police dont just wake up and think well today I will beat the crap out of people. Grow up people. He who complains should go be at an officer's side for a weekend.

LynnSB
LynnSB

More Ignorant Bull Shit -- so they have funnies on their pages Who the F*ck Cares -- Keep your ignorant BS up and you won't have any officers left then who's going to Police ??? you Lard Ass Whiners ??