PHILADELPHIA. Three police officers accused of using racial slurs — two while breaking up a fight at a high school and another while on a ride-along with a Temple journalism student — were among five city police officers suspended Thursday with the intent to dismiss.
Officers Anthony Ferriola and Donald Swan, of the 17th District, reportedly used racial epithets last month at Audenried High School in South Philadelphia, and 22nd District Officer William Thrasher was quoted by a student reporter using racial slurs in January.
The two other officers were charged in separate criminal incidents. Commissioner Charles Ramsey decided to suspend all five with the intent to dismiss after internal investigations, police said.
Police union officials said the department went too far and that it would challenge each case.
“We don’t condone that behavior…nobody looks forward to bigotry anywhere,” said John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, “but you have to be able to have just cause for firing somebody.”
The Police Advisory Commission said 85 percent of the complaints from minority communities over the last five years have been regarding racism.
“I think that more is going to be required to address what may be a systemic problem within the police department,” said executive director William Johnson.
He wants to see the department take a “zero tolerance” stance against racism and possibly require more diversity training.