In Elizabeth, N.J., more than 80 percent of the citizens are Hispanic or Black. The shift away from majority white working class took decades and local community groups say that excessive police force is a problem there, like it is across the nation.
The rumors of a toxic and heavy-handed police force with a politically-appointed leader at the helm has outwardly manifested itself with Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage finally accepting the resignation of Police Director James Cosgrove after weeks of citizens and politicians calling for Cosgrove to step down.
Cosgrove, and now the rest of the city police department, is being investigated after complaints that Cosgrove has been using racist and sexist slurs when talking about police officers in his own department. The investigation was first reported by The Star-Ledger.
About 20 employees have given statements in an investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office over Cosgrove using the N-word when talking about employees of color, and the “C word” when talking about women, according to a report on NJ1015.com.
Cosgrove has led the police force since 1998 in his politically-appointed position. He has both declined to comment on the accusations against him and the evidence discovered in an investigation by the Union County prosecutor’s office. Until today, Cosgrove refused to resign.
The investigation initially began after a lawyer representing several police officers filed complaints against Cosgrove.
According to the state’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, over the last several decades that Cosgrove, 73, has been in power, he has described his own staff using “racist and misogynistic slurs,” including the n-word.
Elizabeth’s mayor, J. Christian Bollwage, has refused to discuss the two-month investigation and allowed Cosgrove to resign from his position instead of firing him. Bollwage, who is in his seventh term, is the one who originally appointed Cosgrove.
“It is my understanding that, in the course of your investigation, it was reported that Cosgrove engaged in various other forms of serious misconduct, including acts of sexual harassment, as well as routinely interfering in internal affairs investigations,” wrote Joshua F. McMahon in a statement. McMahon is the lawyer representing multiple Elizabeth police officers and the one who originally brought complaints about the director to the Union County prosecutor’s office in February 2019.
Cosgrove is not a uniformed police employee and could not be disciplined by the state attorney general. He is retired from the Newark Police Department.