Recent Racist Tweets from Springfield Officer Highlight Past Problems in Policing

A picture of Aaron Paul Nichols | Photo Credit: Aaron Paul Nichols on Facebook

A picture of Aaron Paul Nichols | Photo Credit: Aaron Paul Nichols on Facebook

Racism and bigotry within police forces have entered the forefront of American thought in recent months and years. Although communities affected by the racism in law enforcement have known and experienced unjust practices for decades, if not centuries, recent cases such as the murder of George Floyd and the alleged murder of Breonna Taylor – and the protests sparked by these killings – have brought issues of policing to every American’s mind.

Unfortunately, the Springfield police are not immune to these trends. A pregnant Black woman was tased during a traffic stop in 2020. The officer involved stated he was “…having a bad day,” among other things. A similar incident happened in 2013. The officer involved in the 2020 case is still on the force and was honored in 2021 with the Porter Williams Award in connection to his actions at the 2020 Bunn-O-Matic shooting. Yet another example occurred in 2021 when a Black man was pulled over for running a stop sign and speeding. He had a necklace with his 2-year-old daughter’s ashes in it, and the officers opened it to test it for drugs. He sued the city, and the trial is scheduled for later this year.

The most recent instance of this trend is the case of Aaron Paul Nichols, a Springfield police officer of more than 15 years. He was accused of posting bigoted and racist statements on social media aimed at the Jewish and Black communities. These will not be quoted in this article, although they are easily found on the Internet, and the author has verified their explicit, vulgar bigotry. He was immediately put on unpaid leave and resigned from the police force shortly after. An internal investigation was launched, which is still underway. The police chief of Springfield has recently started the paperwork to decertify Nichols as a police officer in the State of Illinois. Suppose the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board agrees with the Police Chief of Springfield. In that case, Nichols will be legally unable to work as a police officer in any jurisdiction in the State of Illinois.

Every instance of hate, bigotry, and racism in the police hurts the community. Each is an opportunity for both the community and the police to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. Whether or not trends will continue as they have remains to be seen. The Springfield police force has had major issues in the past, issues that hopefully will change immediately.

Note: The phrase “alleged murder of Breonna Taylor” is purely legal, as her killers were acquitted. This does not reflect the views of The UIS Observer or the author, only the jury’s views on the case.