Wyckoff Police Chief Steps Down Amid Racial Profiling Investigation

Daniel Hubbard, Wyckoff Patch, March 23, 2016

The township police chief agreed to temporarily step down from his position Tuesday night while the state Attorney General’s office investigates an email he allegedly sent in 2014 encouraging racial profiling.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which distributed a copy of the email Tuesday, Chief Benjamin C. Fox allegedly told his staff that “profiling, racial or otherwise, has it’s (sic) place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly.”

The Township Committee convened an emergency meeting Tuesday night to address the email.

Fox asked to go on immediate administrative leave while the investigation was pending; the committee unanimously agreed to the request. {snip}

The ACLU demanded Fox be fired. {snip}

{snip}

At the ACLU’s request, the Attorney General’s office and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating whether Fox in fact advised his officers to engage in racial profiling.

“On its face, the email appears to be a clear violation of the Attorney General’s policy strictly prohibiting racial profiling by police officers,” Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal and Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said in a joint statement.

Fox’s email, written on Dec. 5, 2014 and sent to the entire department, had the subject line of “POLICE SAFETY.”

Someone anonymously shared the email with the ACLU’s New Jersey chapter on March 16.

“Don’t ask the police to ignore what we know. Black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff. That’s why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods. White kids buy heroin in black NYC neighborhoods,” the email provided by the ACLU said. (The email can be found online here.)

Fox urged officers to be fair with people and to “treat them with respect while reminding them to work within the limits of the law to keep themselves safe,” according to the email released by the ACLU.

{snip}

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