Springfield cop accused of racist social media posts resigns before interview
Aaron Nichols, a Springfield Police Department officer accused of racist social media posts, resigned on Tuesday before meeting with investigators.
Nichols had been placed on unpaid leave on Friday, April 1, after media reports of the posts. According to a statement from the police department, Nichols was ordered to meet with internal affairs investigators on Tuesday morning. He reportedly resigned before the meeting.
The department said in their statement that the investigation will continue even with Nichols’ resignation.
The State Journal-Register reported on Friday that the department didn’t release specifics on the posts or how they were discovered.
The International Business Times reported that his social media posts were first found by the Anonymous Comrades Collective website which says it’s “dedicated to exposing Nazis, racists, and fascists.”
The Collective described its research on Nichols’ social media posts and how it was connected to his employment with the city. It also had screen captures of many of his posts that were on Twitter and Gab, a social media platform known for hosting far-right users.
Some of the posts were disturbing. One on Gab claimed “Hitler did nothing wrong.” That’s one of the less offensive posts. Others expressed racism, antisemitism, homophobia and transphobia.
Nichols was a topic during the Springfield City Council meeting on Tuesday night. While residents like Sunshine Clemons of Black Lives Matter-Springfield were happy that the department put the officer on unpaid leave as soon as the posts came to light, they were also concerned that he had been on the force for more than 15 years and that there could be other cops with similar views.
“We are calling for a review by the State’s Attorney’s Office of all police cases, reports, and any prosecutions that stemmed from police work conducted by Officer Aaron Paul Nichols during his tenure at the Springfield Police Department,” Clemons read from an open letter at the meeting. “These cases are to be reviewed to determine if there are any displays of bias or civil rights violations. Next, the Springfield community must be informed of the results of the Office’s investigation.”
The letter, which was also signed by a number of Springfield area organizations and residents, called for the Springfield police department must “uproot and expose” any information on any “unofficial OTA call disposition NN” situations or scenarios as referred to in a tweet by Nichols.
“Finally, the police must identify and implement a plan to proactively identify employees with behaviors and beliefs similar to Officer Nichols,” Clemons read. “We feel these steps are necessary in order to continue relationship building between the community and the officers paid to protect it.”