Police memes have become a serious problem in recent years.
While some are harmless, the meme that went viral on Instagram last year after a New York police officer killed an unarmed black man sparked widespread condemnation from civil rights groups and prompted protests nationwide.
Now, the NYPD is making a concerted effort to stamp out the offending meme.
The department’s top cop said Thursday that the department is cracking down on memes, and he hopes to have a uniformed unit patrolling the streets by the end of the year.
“We want to be proactive,” Chief of Detectives Ray Kelly said.
“And we want to have our uniformed officers out on the streets enforcing the law.
We want to do that without creating a bad image for ourselves.”
The NYPD is currently reviewing more than 10,000 memes that were posted in 2015, including the controversial “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” meme.
Some of the posts have included offensive language and images of children, which are forbidden by the NYPD’s code of ethics.
In response to the latest incident, the department has ordered the removal of nearly 100 memes that it deemed “inappropriate and offensive.”
That includes a cartoon featuring a black man lying on the ground, which was posted to the social media platform by a member of a group calling itself “The NYPD Team.”
A man named “Lenny” who calls himself “Lizzy” also created a series of posts calling for the arrest of police officers, including a cartoon of a cop beating a man with a baton.
The officers in the cartoon are wearing police uniforms, and their faces are blurred out.
The images were eventually removed, and the department said that it is taking action to remove “all posts that incite violence.”
“The police department is working to educate and sensitize our officers and the public about the need to not post images of police on social media,” the department wrote in a statement.
“The department’s team is working diligently to identify and remove all offensive content from the platform.”
The department added that it will “continue to aggressively engage with all social media platforms to ensure they are not hosting any material that glorifies violence or acts in a manner that promotes or encourages criminal behavior.”
In a tweet Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the “most dangerous meme” on social platforms is the one that calls for violence against police.
“That’s a very dangerous meme,” de Blasio told reporters Thursday.
“If you see it, report it to the police.”