The Plain View Project is a database of public Facebook posts and comments made by current and former police officers from several jurisdictions across the United States. The database will prompt several police departments to examine their culture.
Leaving aside the disturbing posts made by some of the officers, the project confirms that having a social media policy is not enough (many of the police departments had a policy prohibiting such posts). These policies need to be enforced, which requires that posts be monitored or at least audited regularly. I would hope that if the police departments had identified these posts before the Project did, they would have taken action. The conversation that is about to take place within the police force would have taken place much earlier.
The comments posted on Facebook were probably made out loud within precincts and patrol cars countless times before – and tolerated by colleagues and supervisors. Those who wanted to speak up probably feared retaliation. So now, as a result of widespread inaction, all officers, good and bad, are tarnished.
Ethical leadership takes courage.