Official, community members disappointed in the rehiring of a Chicopee officer | News
CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM)–Former Chicopee Police Public Information Officer Michael Wilk, who was removed after a controversial social media post last year, is back with the department as a Special Police Officer.
Now, some in the community are rallying against his return, voicing their concerns from City Hall.
A Chicopee School Committee member held a rally Wednesday afternoon, disappointed the department would welcome back officer Michael Wilk. he said Wilk should not be allowed back on duty.
“This is one specific Officer who did wrong, this isn’t a reflection of our Police Department or our city,” said Jim Tanhauser of the Chicopee School Committee.
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Chicopee Police Officer Michael Wilk formally retired from the Police Department back in July of 2020. This, after he was removed from his position as Public Information Officer in late May after a controversial social media post on his private account, started circulating online. It was seen as insensitive by many during a time of unrest following the death of George Floyd.
“I was an early person to advocate for looking into this more, it was something that was swept under the rug,” Tanhauser said.
Wilk returned to the department on Tuesday, as a Special Police Officer, or SPO who will work construction and traffic duty. School Committee Member Jim Tannhauser spoke out on Wednesday, calling the decision by the city to reinstate him disturbing.
“It’s a very questionable decision and it alienates a ton of our community members,” said Tanhauser.
Tannhauser is calling on Wilk to step down from his newly appointed position.
Do Chicopee a favor, you served our City for a lot of years, unfortunately, that was undone by some unfortunate comments and racism and if you really love this City you will step aside. You will do it for the greater good of the City,” said Tanhauser.
Meanwhile, we’re Getting Answers on Wilks’ new role. Western Mass News reached out to Chicopee mayor John Vieau. he told us the hiring of Wilk was due to a Police Department staffing shortage.
Mayor Vieau said every retired officer under the age of 65 has the chance to return to duty as an SPO to assist in staff shortages.
These officers can only work 960 hours per year and can not earn more than what they would have earned if they were in their previous position.
Mayor Vieau goes on to say in part quote:
“Special Police Officers are held to the same qualification standards as the other Chicopee Police Officers. Special Officer Wilk will not be associated with any of the Chicopee Police Department’s social media pages.”
We reached out to Officer Wilk and he declined to comment at this time.