Wyckoff chief will get paid during investigation of pro-racial profiling email
WYCKOFF — The police chief who has temporarily stepped aside while authorities investigate his apparent endorsement of racial profiling will be getting paid during his time away, Wyckoff Mayor Kevin J. Rooney confirmed Monday.
In a statement sent to New Jersey 101.5, Rooney said Chief Benjamin Fox would be on paid administrative leave "for an undetermined period." Previous statements from Wyckoff officials left it unclear if Rooney would collect a paycheck on the administrative leave, which he reportedly requested last week "since it would avoid unnecessary distractions” during the investigation.
"For the foreseeable future, his status will remain unchanged," Rooney said in the statement.
Fox makes an annual salary of $174,609, according to Police And Firemen Retirement System records.
Bergen County Acting Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal and Rooney announced Friday an agreement to appoint a captain from Grewal’s office to monitor the municipal department during the investigation In the chief’s absence. The department’s acting officer in charge will be Lt. Charles VanDyk.
The investigation began after the state Attorney General’s Office announced it was investigating an email Fox sent to his staff that encouraged cops to profile black people in white neighborhoods.
The email, sent on Dec. 5, 2014, was leaked to the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a complaint with the state.
"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."
State officials have said the email appears to violate a 2005 attorney general law enforcement directive prohibiting police from engaging in racial profiling.
Wyckoff is a town of 17,000 people, 94 percent of whom are white. Less than 100 residents are black, according to the 2010 Census.
"The Township of Wyckoff and the Wyckoff Police Department will continue to be fully transparent and fully cooperative with the Bergan County Prosecutor’s Office while they continue their investigation," Rooney said in Monday's statement. "The mission of the Wyckoff Police Department continues to be the protection of and service to our citizens, their families and local businesses, and those who visit our community.
The mayor said he had "no doubt that our police officers will continue to operate with the utmost respect for all those whom they have sworn to protect."
Reporting by Dan Alexander and Sergio Bichao was used in this post.