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N.J. police chief steps down as state probes racial profiling email

Wyckoff - Police Chief Benjamin Fox agreed Tuesday to temporarily step down with pay as the township's top cop as the N.J. Attorney General investigates an ACLU complaint that he condones racial profiling, according to Township Administrator Bob Shannon.

The complaint stems from a 2014 email the chief allegedly sent to his officers urging them to watch out for "suspicious black people in white neighborhoods."

The Wyckoff Township Committee met Tuesday night in an emergency session to address the issue. Fox, who was at the meeting, agreed to go on immediate administrative leave until the investigation is over. The chief said he wants to meet with investigators to "explain the contents of his email and demonstrate that neither he nor our police department has ever condoned or engaged in profiling," according to a report in The Record.

AG investigates Wyckoff police chief Chief Benjamin Fox appears to condone racial profiling in an email sent to officers.

In the Dec. 2104 email, Fox stated he was concerned that misguided complaints about police would cause officers to react slowly in threatening situations.

"Profiling, racial or otherwise, has its place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly," states the email, which was released Tuesday by the ACLU-NJ.

"Black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff," the email states. "That's why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods."

In a joint statement Tuesday morning, Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy and Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal said they were aware of the email and were investigating.

State and national leaders have condemned the police chief for his alleged remarks.

"It is unfathomable for a police administrator to set a tone which perpetuates unlawful conduct, such as racial profiling by police officers under his command," Antonio Hernandez, who heads the National Coalition of Latino Officers, stated in an email to NJ Advance Media Tuesday night.

Anthony Cureton, head of the Bergen County NAACP, called for disciplinary action against Fox. "Using profiling as a justification to combat crime in law enforcement encourages bias policing and is insulting to the all officers that do the job with true intentions of serving and protecting all people," Cureton said in a statement.

Chief Fox has not returned several calls seeking comment.

Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney has also been unavailable to comment.


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