St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner has added 22 more names to a list of St. Louis police officers who are not allowed to bring cases to her office. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the names were added to the list after a national group accused the officers of posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.
The, started in 2017 by a group of attorneys in Philadelphia, reviewed Facebook posts and comments by 3,500 officers or former officers from eight police jurisdictions across the country, including St. Louis, Dallas and Philadelphia. The group maintains a database of about 5,000 Facebook posts and comments they say could undermine public trust and confidence in police.
Gardner earlier this month vowed to review the group's findings, and Mayor Lyda Krewson called the Facebook posts "disturbing and unacceptable," reports the Post-Dispatch. Gardner said in a letter to city leaders Tuesday that her office concluded the bias shown in the social media posts would likely influence the officers' ability to perform their duties in an unbiased manner.
"Police integrity is at the core of the community's confidence in the criminal justice system," Gardner wrote in the letter. "When a police officer's integrity is compromised in this manner, it compromises the entire criminal justice system and our overall ability to pursue justice."
She said many of the Facebook posts were "shocking" and "beneath the dignity of someone who holds such a powerful position."
Gardner had previously placed 28 other officers on the "exclusion list" in August. A spokeswoman for her office confirmed to the paper that the total number of officers on the list now stands at 59.
Gardner said her office would not consider cases or search warrants involving seven of the officers added to the list Tuesday. The work of the other 15 officers will be reviewed to determine conditions under which they could again present cases.
Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, blasted the prosecutor's decision in a statement to the Post-Dispatch.
"If these officers are determined to have engaged in misconduct, we have a process," he said. "There's no due process in what Kim Gardner did today. It's just panic at the disco."
All eight police jurisdictions named by the Plain View Project have denounced the Facebook posts, CBS News' Don Dahler reported, and some have placed officers on desk duty.