- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

WYCKOFF, N.J. (AP) - The lawyer for a New Jersey police chief facing demotion for sending an email advocating racial profiling called the punishment exceptionally inappropriate and said the town is pandering to the ultra-liberal.

Wyckoff officials initiated the action against Police Chief Benjamin Fox after acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal on Tuesday found that the chief’s 2014 email “explicitly” violated a 2005 state directive prohibiting racial profiling.

Fox’s email said profiling has its place in law enforcement if done correctly. It also said that “black gang members from Teaneck commit burglaries in Wyckoff. That’s why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods.”

Grewal said an investigation didn’t uncover “any substantiated instances” of racial profiling by Wyckoff officers. Mayor Kevin Rooney said in a statement Wednesday that Fox’s actions were an “isolated incident” and that there are no “systemic problems” in the police department.

“The decision to demote Fox was based on the findings of the Prosecutor’s Office and Attorney General’s Office that Fox’s email “promoted racially charged policing,” Rooney wrote.

Britt Simon, an attorney for a firm representing Fox, said Rooney was taking steps to “undermine the safety of residents in order to appear politically correct.”

Arthur Margeotes, an attorney with the same practice, said the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which made Fox’s email public in March, inflamed a “benign situation.”

Fox was suspended with pay in May. His attorneys said they plan to pursue all legal avenues available to challenge the punishment, which some observers said isn’t severe enough.

Alexander Shalom of the ACLU told The Record (http://bit.ly/2aCfRyQ ) newspaper Fox should have been fired.

“For the public to have confidence in the Wyckoff Police Department, (Fox) can’t be a part of that department,” he said.

Anthony Cureton, head of the Bergen County chapter of the NAACP and a retired Englewood police sergeant, called the punishment a “suitable penalty” that satisfied the organization.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

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