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Phoenix police union looking into internet scrubbing service for officers

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 22:15:44-04

PHOENIX, AZ — The union representing rank-and-file officers in the Phoenix Police Department is looking into paying for a service that would scrub its members identities' online.

“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," Phoenix Law Enforcement Association president Michael "Britt" London said in a texted statement.

However, the announcement comes as the department continues to investigate racist and violent posts by some of its officers publicized by a criminal justice watchdog. Phoenix police officers have also faced criticism and investigation for allegations of excessive force and a record number of officer-involved shootings in 2018.

In a video update posted to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association's Facebook page, the union believes the internet scrubbing service, sometimes called a reputation management service, would cost members roughly three dollars per month.

"[PLEA secretary] Franklin Marino has contacted a service that will scrub your name from the internet," London said in the video.

London said more details were available on a private Facebook group open to union members.

“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,” London added in the statement. ABC15 asked for an on-camera interview, but was repeatedly told London was not available.

A police department spokesperson said Chief Jeri Williams was unavailable for an interview, but did provide a statement.

"I respect the lawful rights of individuals as well as organizations," Williams said. "I am aware of no authority that allows me to forbid labor organizations from communicating with their members. 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."

Phoenix police said Thursday the internal investigation into the officers' posts was still in progress, and 12 officers remain on desk duty. No date was given for the completion of the investigation.