A police officer has reportedly been fired in Indiana after officials said his background investigation “missed” racist posts he allegedly made on a neo-Nazi web forum that were uncovered and shared online in now-viral posts.
Joseph Zacharek, who was hired to serve as an officer in the Lafayette Police Department in June, was fired on Saturday after officials launched an investigation into accusations that claimed he participated in the extremist forum.
“I know the question everyone will have is, how does something like this get missed in a background investigation,” Pat Flannelly, chief of the Lafayette Police Department, said in a statement reported by the Journal & Courier. “How is it possible and how do we prevent this from ever happening again? I’m not going to sugar-coat this. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. We missed it.”
The now-defunct forum was called Iron March, and had its database dumped by an anonymous individual online in November 2019, nearly two years after it was permanently shut down.
The data dump exposed people who had participated in the forum that peddled white supremacist sentiments.
Photos of Mr Zacharek circulated online in recent days as Twitter users continued exposing alleged users of the Iron March forum.
The police department responded directly to one of those messages on Friday night in a Twitter post that read: “We appreciate this information being brought to our attention. An investigation into these allegations will commence immediately.”
“There is no room for hate at LPD,” the statement continued. “We will get to the truth.”
The police department’s Twitter account later confirmed that Mr Zacharek, who was hired as a recruit officer, had been fired “as a result of the investigation”.
In a statement released after his firing, the police chief appeared to confirm Mr Zacharek was found to have been a part of the forum.
“The investigation has determined that Zacharek did participate in this online forum and that the information that was provided to LPD was accurate and credible,” the statement read.
Mr Flannelly continued: “Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values.”