SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette confirmed Tuesday that former police officer Aaron Nichols “did not dispute” accusations of posting hate speech on social media platforms.
Nichols resigned Tuesday morning. He was a member of the department for 18 years.
“I think the posts that I read are not the individual that I thought I knew,” Scarlette said Tuesday. “It’s clear the posts are just despicable, deplorable. I mean, they make my stomach hurt just thinking about them.”
Nichols was put on paid administrative leave last Friday. Scarlette said he gave up his gun and badge without incident. Nichols returned to the department Tuesday morning for an interview with Internal Affairs as a part of the investigation.
He presented a resignation letter upon arriving.
At both of those meetings, he did not deny the allegations.
Scarlette has started the process to have Nichols decertified. The Springfield Police Department will turn over their findings to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. If he is decertified, he will be barred from a law enforcement officer again in Illinois.
“In my opinion, he should not be a certified police officer in the state of Illinois as a result of this egregious actions that were uncovered,” Scarlette said.
The investigation into Nichols will continue, even after he resigned. State’s Attorney Dan Wright released a statement Tuesday night, saying his office is committed to reviewing all of the cases Nichols was involved in.
“While a thorough investigation of recent allegations against a former Springfield Police Officer is absolutely necessary and I look forward to its completion, my office has already begun an internal review of cases in which the subject officer was involved,” Wright said in the statement.
Springfield Black Lives Matter co-president Sunshine Clemmons said that investigation needs to happen to help repair the trust between the department and the public.
“We offered praise for moving as quickly as he did,” Clemmons said. “So I think that’s, you know, genuine recognition that should be that should be pointed out, but there are also some hard questions that need to be answered. One of which is what are you doing to ensure that you don’t have any officers that are still on your force that feel that way?”
Nichols’ alleged social media history was exposed by an anonymous blog Thursday night. The post from the blog Anonymous Comrades Collective provided a history of Nichols’ posts, as well as evidence linking Nichols to several anonymous social media accounts.
Scarlette was made aware of the posts Friday morning.
“I would say that the information that was provided to us through the the blog post was very specific and someone did a very thorough job in their investigation,” Scarlette said.