New Jersey State prosecutors are currently investigating the Wyckoff Police Department after its police chief sent an open email defending racial profiling as a valid form of policing, urging his officers to “watch out for suspicious black people in white neighborhoods.”
Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox agreed Tuesday to step down with pay as the township’s chief of police as the NJ Attorney General investigates an ACLU complaint that he supports the use of racial profiling, according to Township Administrator Bob Shannon.
The Wyckoff Township Committee met Tuesday night upon notification of the Attorney General’s Investigation in an emergency session to address the issue. Fox was at the meeting, and agreed to go on immediate administrative leave until the investigation was completed.
The complaint from the ACLU originally stems from a December 5, 2014 email the chief sent to his entire police force, urging them to “watch out for suspicious black people in white neighborhoods.”
More from Fox:
“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 tl1ey 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. “
The Chief closes his email out by urging his reporting officers to “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.”
In a joint statement Tuesday morning, Attorney General Robert Lougy and Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal said they aware of the email and that “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.”
ACLU spokeswoman Allison Peltzman said the email arrived last week from an anonymous source.
“When you look at everything we know about the kind of policing that fosters trust between officers and communities, this email shows Wyckoff heading in the opposite direction,” ACLU-NJ senior staff attorney Alexander Shalom said of the email.
Anthony Cureton, head of the Bergenm County NAACP, was equally swift in his response, calling for immediate disciplinary action against Fox. “Using profiling as a justification to combat crime in law enforcement encourages bias policing and is insulting to all the officers that do the job with true intentions of serving and protecting all people,” he said in a public statement.
Fox did not immediately return messages left at his office and on his cell phone seeking comment from initial reporters, and at this time has not made a public statement regarding the incident.
Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney has not yet publicly commented on the investigation either.