Indiana police recruit fired for ties to neo-Nazis

LAFAYETTE, Indiana — A police recruit in northwestern Indiana is 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 launches an investigation into Joseph Zacharek, who was hired in June, after being notified on Twitter on Friday evening of his possible participation in a chat forum called Iron March, in 2016.

The department’s internal affairs division concludes that the information was “accurate and credible,” and Zacharek was terminated, according to a 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 tells 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 says in the release.

The department says that Zacharek had been in training and had “no exposure to the public.”

The department acknowledges 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 tells the newspaper the department would review its background check processes.

Attempts to reach Zacharek are unsuccessful. No listed phone number can be located for him. Police Lieutenant Matt Gard says the department was unable to provide Zacharek’s contact information. A listed number for the police union in Lafayette is disconnected. It is not immediately clear if Zacharek has an attorney.

— AP

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