NJ investigates police chief over email touting racial profiling of blacks
WYCKOFF —The state attorney general is investigating whether the police chief of this Bergen County township encouraged officers to racially profile black people in white neighborhoods.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which forwarded a leaked email purporting to be from Benjamin Fox to officers.
In the email, sent in 2014, Fox defends racial profiling and laments "the national rhetoric about police abuse and 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."
The office of Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy on Tuesday acknowledged receiving the complaint.
"On its face, the email appears to be a clear violation of the Attorney General’s policy strictly prohibiting racial profiling by police officers. We are conducting a full investigation and will take all appropriate measures.”
In the email, the chief says that "profiling, racial or otherwise, has it's place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly.Unfortunately we have never heard that from our President, top political leaders or our US Attorney General."
Fox said that not profiling "will cause an officer to to react slower to something you might perceive as a threat. That delay could be deadly." He told his officers to "continue to do your job relying on your training, instincts and knowledge."
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.
This is the not the first time that Wyckoff has been in the ACLU’s crosshairs.
In 2013, Fox admitted that his officers made mistakes in they way they handled taking citizen complaints. The ACLU recording an officer telling someone over the phone that the department could not accept anonymous complaints about police, which is not true.
In 2012, the ACLU targeted a Wyckoff ordinance that limited the amount of time people could display political signs on their private property, pointing out that limits on political signs are unconstitutional.
Email Sent by Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox
I think that most police officers are finding the national rhetoric about police abuse and racial profiling quite upsetting. Profiling, racial or otherwise, has it's place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly. Unfortunately we have never heard that from our President, top political leaders or our US Attorney General. 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. That's why the NYPD stops those white kids. The police know they are there to buy drugs. It's insane to think that the police should just "dumb down" just to be politically correct. The public wants us to keep them safe and I'm confident that they want us to use our skills and knowledge to attain that goal.
My major concern is that all of this misguided complaining about police officers will cause an officer to react slower to something you might perceive as a threat. That delay could be
Continue to do your job relying on your training, instincts and knowledge:
A common thread in the recent national incidents are persons who resist the police. That
resistance then creates your counter reaction. We don't run from fights.
This department has a history of being respected by the public. Each of you contribute to that daily. Continue to be fair with people and treat them with respect. If someone resists your authorized demands, use your counter reaction as the law allows and you have my 100% support should others complain. If you have done your job correctly, they don't want to get me on the other end of the phone.
Above all, do what you have to do and that which the law allows you to do to remain safe.