The New Jersey Attorney General is investigating Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox over an email that encouraged officers to practice racial profiling while checking for “suspicious Black people.”
In a 2014 internal email, Fox, who is white, instructed officers to pay extra attention to Black people in white neighborhoods.
An excerpt from the email details his thought process and reasoning behind asking officers to carry out the illegal process:
“Profiling, racial or otherwise, has its place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly. Black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff. That’s why we check out suspicious Black people in white neighborhoods. 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 New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union released the original email today, and it goes into greater detail about the alleged racial profiling his officers were instructed to do.
The ACLU said the email came from an unspecified source last week. Alexander Shalom, an ACLU attorney, said in a statement that “racial profiling has no place in policing in New Jersey.”
This email was written December 5, 2014, and Fox has maintained a low profile since then.
“On its face, the email appears to be a clear violation of the Attorney General’s policy strictly prohibiting racial profiling by police officers,” said acting Attorney General Robert Lougy and acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal in a joint statement. “We are conducting a full investigation and will take all appropriate measures.”
This incident highlights major racial biases in policing that is not limited to just this chief and his department. New Jersey’s impending investigation may show that this mindset is ingrained in police departments nationwide — showing the very dangerous roadblocks to reform.