NJ police chief steps down as email defending racial profiling is investigated
WYCKOFF — Police Chief Benjamin Fox temporarily stepped down from his position Tuesday while the state Attorney General's Office investigates an email Fox sent encouraging his officers to racially profile black people in white neighborhoods.
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Township Committee on Tuesday night, Fox said it was in the "best interest of the department since it would avoid unnecessary distractions" while he met with Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy to as part of an investigation, according to the Bergen Record.
Lougy announced the investigation on Tuesday after the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union received a copy of an email written by Fox in 2014 defending the use of racial profiling and lamenting “the national rhetoric about police abuse and racial profiling.”
Lougy and Bergen County Acting Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal say the email appears to be a violation of state policy prohibiting racial profiling.
“Black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff,” the email says. “That’s why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods. White kids buy heroin in black NYC neighborhoods. That’s why the NYPD stops those white kids. It’s insane to think that the police should just ‘dumb down’ just to be politically correct.”
ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer said in a statement that if Fox sent the email he “must be held accountable” and called for his firing.
“This is a wake-up call for New Jersey to implement stronger oversight and transparency in policing practices across the state,” Ofer said. “That’s why the Attorney General must mandate that all police departments in New Jersey report to the public basic policing data — whether on stop-and-frisk or arrests and summonses — to determine whether racial bias exists in policing on our streets and on our roads.”
Fox and Wyckoff Police had no comment about the email.