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ACLU-NJ Statement on Resignation of Elizabeth Police Director

April 30, 2019

The ACLU-NJ issues the following statement regarding the decision of Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove to resign following an investigation that deemed allegations of racist and sexist slurs credible.

The following can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha:

“New Jerseyans certainly feel relief that Police Director James Cosgrove has stepped down, but it never should have required the Attorney General’s intervention or calls from advocates for Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage to take action. As soon as the Union County Prosecutor found allegations of racist and sexist slurs credible, Mayor Bollwage should have been compelled to take immediate steps to meet the seriousness of the situation. Instead, we saw a mayor who chose to evade accountability by blocking journalists on social media when asked about the controversy surrounding his police director, antithetical to transparency and the Constitution.

“Cosgrove’s resignation speaks to the influence of civil rights advocates across New Jersey, and it also indicates the need to deeply examine police culture in Elizabeth - and statewide - to ensure that the scourge of racism and misogyny are properly addressed at every level.

“Now, the Elizabeth Police Department and the larger community can begin to heal from this stain on their city. The police department and city officials must work to promote a healthy, safe environment for officers and the community alike. We hope the Attorney General’s audit and implicit bias and harassment trainings will start the process, but we know more needs to be done.

“As it recovers from the decades of known bias in its police brass, Elizabeth is also at the precipice of great opportunity, as it has the chance to reform its culture, policies, and practices. The next police director must be committed to not merely avoiding past mistakes, but to evolving EPD’s culture into one of openness and inclusion. We must have truly transparent and accountable policing that all community members can have faith in. We must reduce the unnecessary use of force, particularly against communities of color who are disproportionately impacted. And we must take a stand for racial justice and gender equality – pillars that are essential to protect and advance as we strive to create a Garden State that is inclusive and diverse.”

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