CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Former Chicopee Police Public Information Officer Mike Wilk is back on the force.
The Chicopee Mayor’s Office confirmed this to 22News Tuesday night. Wilk retired after being demoted over offensive social media posts. Wilk said the demotion did not play a role in his decision.
According to the mayor’s office, Wilk’s new position as a special officer will have nothing to do with his former public information officer position.
School Committee member Jim Tanhauser Jr. is holding a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Chicopee City Hall to address the re-hiring of Officer Mike Wilk.
Bishop Talbert Swan of the Greater Springfield NAACP sent 22News a copy of the following email he sent to Chicopee Mayor Vieau Wednesday.
One year ago, after discovering racist social media posts by Officer Michael Wilk, you stated, “Racism has no place here in our city…no place at all.” The Chicopee city council unanimously passed a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis. You further stated, “We will not tolerate racism or hate in this city.“ you removed Officer Wilke as the public information officer for the Chicopee Police Department and assured residents of the city that your administration would take swift and immediate action against racist actions by public officials. Your response in the wake of Officer Wilkes actions went against the norm of most departments across the region, which typically are to defend and protect officers accused of improper behavior. Many residents of your city and beyond commended you for taking such a stance.
It is hard to fathom the rationale as to why Officer Wilk has been rehired a year after retiring following public outcry over his racist actions. Sentiments expressed by Officer Wilk, that protesters should be shot, immigrants cut by razor wire, and Black athletes protesting injustice should be treated like George Floyd was by convicted murderer Derek Chauvin, are dangerous, racist, and unconscionable. If the Chicopee Police Department harbors individuals with violent, white supremacist, views regarding Black people, non-white immigrants, and others, how can non-white residents of Chicopee and persons in the region who work, shop, visit relatives, or drive through your city, have any confidence that they will be treated justly when they encounter law-enforcement?
I agree with what you said last year, racism has no place in Chicopee and it should not be tolerated. However, allowing the rehiring of an openly racist police officer is the epitome of tolerating racism. On behalf of the Greater Springfield NAACP, whose catchment area includes the city of Chicopee, I urge you to reconsider this action and to immediately dismiss Officer Wilk. Allowing Officer Wilk back on the police force is tantamount to a daycare center or elementary school rehiring a known pedophile after they’ve been dismissed.
Constituents of our branch, which includes many residents of Chicopee, stand with city councilor Jim Tanhauser and all persons good moral conscious in condemning the allowance of a racist to once again carry a gun and a badge and to have the lives of Black and brown people in his hands. Failure to correct this egregious mistake will be a staIn on your record and decry any previous condemnation of racism that you have ever uttered. I am hopeful you will do the right thing.
Bishop Talbert W. Swan, II
President, Greater Springfield NAACP”