JERSEY CITY - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced Wednesday that he has removed Police Chief Robert Cowan as the head of the city's police department.

"I want to thank Chief Cowan for his service and commitment to the Jersey City Police Department," said Mayor Fulop.

In a letter to Cowan, Mayor Fulop pointed to his growing concern over the number of complaints alleging retaliation by Chief Cowan and "his resistance to best practices." 

The mayor said removing Cowan was done after a review of personnel. "We had some lawsuits that were filed against the city," he says. "And when you look at the totality of work, we said there's been some great things and some things that have been concerning and we're not going to settle for mediocrity."

An acting chief of the department will be named to oversee it until a new chief is appointed.

Fulop stopped short of saying the move was in reaction to a recent uptick in crime, and stood behind his decision. "It's a significant move, and it's a significant message that we expect people to be top performers and we'll make changes where appropriate," he says.

Cowan has been on the job for about nine months, but now has only 20 days left in his current position.