Wyckoff police Chief Benjamin Fox stepped down from his position amid controversy surrounding the email he sent in late 2014 as commentary on the Black Lives Matter protests.
He reportedly wrote, “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.”
ACLU Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom said the email shows violations of state and federal prohibitions against racial profiling in policing.
“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,” Shalom said in a public statement. “Encouraging police officers to act with racial bias is unacceptable. Sowing mistrust at this level damages civil rights, and it threatens public safety by diminishing the faith people have in the police.”
Bergon County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal and NJ Attorney General Robert Lougy said, “On its face, the email appears to be a clear violation of the Attorney General’s policy strictly prohibiting racial profiling by police officers.”
The ACLU is now investigating the Wyckoff Police Department’s records on arrests, use of force, stop and frisk, training, and emails. They are also demanding the New Jersey State Police collect and publish data on such information regularly. They want Chief Fox fired, the Wyckoff officers re-trained, and the department tested for biased policing.
Wyckoff is a small North Jersey suburb with a 93.5% white population and a median income of $141,964. During an emergency town meeting to discuss the controversy, Chief Fox attended and said he would leave his position in the department in order to, “explain the contents of his email and demonstrate that neither he nor [the] police department has ever condoned or engaged in profiling.”
As Police Chief, Fox made $174,000 a year.