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Wyckoff Police Chief Takes Leave As Authorities Probe Racial Profiling Memo

Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox
Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT file photo

UPDATE (March 25 ): A captain with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office was appointed temporary monitor of the Wyckoff Police Department while investigators from the state Attorney General's Office investigate an email Chief Benjamin Fox wrote to his department that they said appears to advocate racial profiling.WYCKOFF, N.J. -- Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox has taken administrative leave while authorities investigate an email he wrote to his department that they said "on its face" appears to advocate racial profiling.

Township officials agreed to the chief's request, which he said would be in the "best interest of the department since it would avoid unnecessary distractions."

Township Committee members said in a release that the leave would allow Fox to explain himself to the prosecutor's and attorney general's offices and "demonstrate that neither he nor our police department has ever condoned or engaged in profiling."

In the email, leaked to and released by the ACLU-NJ, Fox says: “Profiling, racial or otherwise, has it’s (sic) place in law enforcement.

"Don’t ask police to ignore what we know," it says. "Black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff. That’s why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods.”

Acting New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy and Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal issued a joint news release Tuesday morning that 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. We are conducting a full investigation and will take all appropriate measures.”

Daily Voice emailed Fox for a response.

The American Civil Liberties Union-New Jersey demanded that authorities fire Fox, retrain officers and conduct audits for "both racially biased policing and use of force."

“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.

“Encouraging police officers to act with racial bias is unacceptable," Shalom said. "Sowing mistrust at this level damages civil rights, and it threatens public safety by diminishing the faith people have in the police.

"If Chief Fox sent the email, community members — and the police department — will need real accountability to heal from this fractured and divisive approach to policing.”

The email addressed from Fox was written in 2014 but anonymously shared with the ACLU-NJ a little over a week ago, Shalom said.

It "encourages officers to violate both state and federal civil rights laws that ban racial profiling, as well as an official statewide policy established through Attorney General directive that prohibits racially influenced policing," he said. READ MORE....

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