The Lafayette Police Department Saturday terminated an officer who participated in an online neo-Nazi forum in 2016.
A Twitter user tagged the LPD account Friday night, notifying the department that Joseph Zacharek -- who joined the force as a recruit officer in June 2020 -- had posted in the now-defunct forum Iron March.
In archived posts on the website Iron March Exposed, Zacharek, posting under a pseudonym, said he “fooled himself into thinking all races were equal.” He also wrote, “I think a country that allowed any White immigration while denying any lesser races is the most ideal and lasting solution.”
LPD launched an internal investigation, and terminated Zacharek Saturday morning.
Lafayette Deputy Police Chief Brad Bishop said Monday Zacharek underwent a thorough background investigation during his application process, which includes a polygraph test that asks questions about racial bias. Among other steps, candidates must pass a psychological examination, and are interviewed by the city’s Police Merit Board.
“We have identified areas already, today, that we think -- we feel like we can improve upon in our hiring process, to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Bishop said. “And we’ll do our best to make sure that it does not.”
Bishop said those areas included the background investigation and polygraph examination process.
“Technology has advanced quite a bit,” Bishop said. “Internet is something that we probably need additional training in how to do searches on a more comprehensive level.”
Bishop said there were “no complaints” about Zacharek, and thus far no indication that other department officers have expressed similar beliefs.
“If we have any indication that any officer has these beliefs, we will investigate that immediately and aggressively,” Bishop said.