LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A police recruit in northwestern Indiana was fired less than 24 hours after the department was notified that the officer was involved in a neo-Nazi online chat forum.
The Lafayette Police Department launched an investigation into Joseph Zacharek, who was hired in June, after being notified on Twitter Friday evening of his possible participation in a chat forum called Iron March in 2016.
The department’s internal affairs division concluded the information was “accurate and credible,” and Zacharek was terminated, according to a Saturday news release from Chief Patrick Flannelly.
The chat forum disbanded in 2017, but its posts were leaked online late last year, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
Flannelly told the newspaper that Zacharek was called into the station Friday and admitted the comments were his. He was fired by noon the next day.
“Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values,” Flannelly said in the release.
The department said that Zacharek had been in training and had “no exposure to the public.”
The department acknowledged that it did not discover the information prior to hiring Zacharek despite conducting “very thorough and complete background investigations on potential employees,” which includes a review of social media accounts, according to the statement.
Flannelly told the newspaper the department would review its background check processes.
Attempts to reach Zacharek on Sunday were unsuccessful. No listed phone number could be located for him. Police Lieutenant Matt Gard said the department was unable to provide Zacharek's contact information. A listed number for the police union in Lafayette was disconnected. It was not immediately clear if Zacharek had an attorney.