Christian Fenico, a Philadelphia police officer fired in 2019 over offensive Facebook posts has been reinstated with full back pay. Among other things, Fenico had posted that refugees should “starve to death.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer the officer was reinstated with full back pay after an arbitrator in a grievance filed with the police union ruled Fenico’s social media posts did not prevent him from being a valuable officer.
His posts were part of hundreds from Philadelphia officers posted in June 2019 to a public database by the Plain View Project, which looked at seven other police departments as well.
The reinstatement and arbitration hearings occur while the city struggles with public perception of its officers after several violent altercations with marchers protesting police brutality and racist police practices in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
The database resulted in a mass disciplining of Philadelphia officers. The sanctioned officer included 15 who were forced off the job and 193 officers in total being found to have violated department policy, officials said.
The majority were object of “command level discipline,” with the most serious penalty of a five-day suspension for making what advocates at the database called racist, sexist, or discriminatory Facebook posts.
The arbitrator confirmed the firing of another officer, Daniel Farrelly, saying his online activity was “dehumanizing”. His posts mocked protesters and used the word “animals” in reference to African-americans.
At least five other officers are also under the arbitration process. One of them was suspended for a month and recently reached a preliminary settlement agreement with the city, the Inquirer reported. Those are scheduled to be heard by the end of July.
Some of the police officers also filed two civil lawsuits recently. One of those lawsuits that claimed officers were discriminated against for holding right-wing views was dismissed last month after procedural defects. A second lawsuit is still pending.