10/17/20 Joseph Zacharek fired

Joseph Zacharek, who was hired in June by the Lafayette Police Department, was found to have participated in a neo-Nazi online message board. The department fired the officer less than 24 hours after beginning an investigation into his posts from 2016.

After the Lafayette Police Department was notified Friday evening that one of its officers participated in a white supremacist online message board, an internal investigation led to the termination of the officer.

Joseph Zacharek, a former officer hired in June, participated in a neo-Nazi messaging board known as Iron March in 2016, an LPD investigation determined.

"Our Internal Affairs Division opened an immediate investigation to determine if this report was credible," LPD Chief Patrick Flannelly said in a Saturday afternoon press release. "Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values."

Zacharek had still been in training and has not had any exposure to the public, Flannelly said.

Information on Zacharek's involvement with the forum was not readily accessible as part of police department's routine background investigation, according to Flannelly.

"We take great pride in our investigations and are extremely disappointed that we were not able to uncover this information in that process," he said. "We endeavor to learn from this investigation to ensure it never happens again."

As a user of the forum, Zacharek made posts detailing his hate of the African race, describing how he had previously been "exposed to the vile 'culture' of the African and learned that everything I had been taught on race had been a flimsy fabrication which was not supported by real world evidence."

The initial tweet was made by unverified Twitter user @Ghosts_of_Past, who joined in October and whose bio says she "likes to dox fascists and racists." The user found an email address containing the officer's name that is tied to an Iron March account that posted several times in 2016 under a pseudonym.

The tweet garnered quick backlash aimed at LPD, as a petition titled "Immediately terminate Officer Joseph Zacharek, a self-described white nationalist and Nazi" garnered more than 1,300 signatures in about six hours.

The Instagram account @BlackatPurdue also posted a notice Saturday afternoon — before LPD's announcement of Zacharek's termination — of a protest planned at 4:30 p.m. at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse.

"Lafayette Police Department hired a Nazi," the post states. "Let's get him terminated, together."

Editor-in-Chief Alex Weliever contributed reporting to this story.

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