Hampton University fired nine officers from its police department after finding that they shared offensive comments on social media.
The officers committed “egregious violations of the university’s code of conduct” when they shared misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks, according to a statement issued by the historically black university in Hampton, Va. “The university has a zero tolerance for such behavior,” university officials announced. A spokesman for the school did not immediately respond to further questions about the incident.
WAVY-TV reported that it had a copy of one of the termination letters, dated July 24. In the letter, Ronald Davis, deputy chief of the Hampton University Police Department, said multiple officers and supervisors had agreed “to initiate the third annual ‘Meme Wars,’ ” which he described as “a jovial release of photographs and captions designed to levy insults at others in the group as well as persons outside the group.”
David Glover, chief of the Hampton University Police Department, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The department has 43 employees, according to its website, including 25 state-certified police officers and 10 security officers.
The incident comes after a number of high-profile cases in which officers in various agencies and jurisdictions have been linked to offensive comments online.
Some were exposed by an investigation into social media profiles of law enforcement officers by a group called the Plain View Project. The group was started by a woman who saw offensive images while working on a police brutality case during a fellowship at the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia. In June, Injustice Watch and BuzzFeed News announced findings from eight jurisdictions that had been uncovered by the Plain View Project.
This month, Philadelphia’s police commissioner announced that 13 officers would be fired for offensive posts exposed by the Plain View Project, including comments such as “death to Islam,” slurs about black and gay people, and advocacy of police brutality.
Also this month, ProPublica reported that Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths and made other offensive comments in Facebook groups.
In the public statement, Hampton University officials said, “Every member of the Hampton University community must adhere to the university’s code of conduct.”