LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -The Lafayette police department is not making any excuses for hiring a police officer tied to a Neo-Nazi group. Instead, they are saying they need stronger background checks so this does not happen again.
"This was a mistake and we own it 100 percent and we are going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again,” said the Chief Deputy of the Lafayette Police Department Bard Bishop.
As we previously reported, back in June of this year the Lafayette police department hired Joseph Zacharek. An anonymous Twitter account tagged LPD in a tweet containing information they found showing Zacharek participated in a Neo-Nazi internet chat forum known as Iron March in 2016.
"I'm devastated I'm embarrassed and I'm dedicated to making sure this never happens again, said Bishop.
Once LPD confirmed that the information they received on Twitter was true they fired Zacharek. The department says if not for the tweet, they never would have known about Zacharek's participation in a hate group forum.
"The blog that he participated in had been shut down in 2018,” added Chief Deputy Bishop. “So it was not searchable that information was gained illegally by a hacker which made it accessible to us."
Kirk Freeman is a lawyer in Tippecanoe County. He is currently advocating for a racial tracking rule to be added to the Tippecanoe County court system. He says it is hard to believe that LPD missed something so alarming in the background check process since the department has access to a lot of technology. Especially with how the Twitter account that exposed this information describes themselves.
"The Nazi was found by a 40-year-old soccer mom at her breakfast nook with a laptop,” said Freeman.
He thinks the police aren't taking this seriously enough.
"I don't think they understand how deep the anger goes,” said Freeman. “It's is a complete and utter betrayal of trust."
However, LPD says they want to expand training and background checks so that no one slips through the cracks.
"These are not the type of people that we want at the Lafayette Police Department,” added Bishop. I don’t think these are the type of people that we have at the Lafayette police department."
Bishop went on to say that during the interview process potential officer are asked during a polygraph about race and racism, however, he would not go into detail about what those exact questions are that they ask.
He also says that Zacharek did not have any complaints during his training for making or saying any sort of racist statements. He added that they are not investigating any other police officers for similar behavior. However, if they receive evidence that other officers are participating in similar behavior they will take it seriously and do a full investigating.