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Mayor: Wyckoff Busts Chief To Patrolman For 'Isolated' Racial Profile Email

Wyckoff Mayor Kevin J. Rooney
Wyckoff Mayor Kevin J. Rooney Photo Credit: COURTESY: Wyckoff Mayor Kevin J. Rooney

WYCKOFF, N.J. -- Calling it an "isolated incident," Wyckoff officials busted former Police Chief Benjamin Fox to patrolman for sending an email to his department that advocated racial profiling.

Fox also was suspended for 180 days without pay by the Township Committee following a 90-minute closed-door session Tuesday night, Mayor Kevin J. Rooney said.

The vote on both moves was 5-0 and followed an investigation by acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal , who referred the handling of discipline to the committee.

"The action of Chief Benjamin Fox was an isolated incident and the Prosecutor’s Office findings proved what we have believed all along -- that aside from the December 5, 2014 email from Chief Benjamin Fox, the Wyckoff Police Department did not endorse or encourage the practice of racially-influenced policing," Rooney said Wednesday.

"We are pleased to learn that there are no systemic problems that exist within the Wyckoff Police Department," the mayor added. "The top priority of this administration and the Wyckoff Police Department is to serve and protect all people in Wyckoff."

Grewal said a joint investigation by his office and township police “did not reveal any substantiated instances of racial profiling” by any members of the department, "nor did it reveal that [apart from Fox’s email] any member of the Wyckoff PD either encouraged or condoned racial profiling."

However, the prosecutor said, Fox “explicitly” violated a state Attorney General directive against racial profiling .

Rooney said a lot of good has happened in the township the past several months -- including the addition of "specialized training and highly demanding programs" for police.

"Our biggest accomplishment is that all of our officers have undergone numerous training exercises through an intense accreditation program that we are working toward completion," the mayor said.

"Through a partnership between our training consultant and Fairleigh Dickinson University, we were able to implement a first class in-service training curriculum that was both rigorous and demanding of our officers," he said. "This program was specifically designed for the Wyckoff Police Department and mandatory for all uniformed officers.

"The curriculum included trainings on cultural awareness, use of force, internal affairs training, training on discrimination and liability compliance training.

"Additionally, we have authorized the introduction of Tasers as an optional use of force when involved with a suspect," Rooney said. "This will create an additional level of safety and security to the suspect, officer and innocent bystanders. All of these new measures and training will make an already exceptional police force even better.

Rooney commended Grewal's office, the state Attorney General's office, the township police department and administrators for a "thorough review, cooperation and professionalism over the past four months while this investigation took place.

He thanked "the residents of Wyckoff for their patience and understanding that the need for a thorough investigation needed to be completed."

He also praised township police, "who showed tremendous professionalism and poise during the last few months.

"The way they have conducted themselves should be commended and I look forward to continuing to work with them making Wyckoff Township a safe and secure place for our residents and visitors."

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