Elizabeth PD director remains in position despite calls to resign over racist comments

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The Elizabeth police director remains on the job several days after state officials called on him to resign over his use of racist and sexist language.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called on Director James Cosgrove to resign after the Union County Prosecutor’s Office concluded an investigation that found that Cosgrove used racist and sexist language when referring to his staff. Grewal also removed the acting Union County prosecutor and named First Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Davenport as acting prosecutor.

“The police director Cosgrove has shown that’s exactly what he is – a racist,” activist Salaam Ismial with the Elizabeth NAACP.

But some city council members are standing by Cosgrove.

“He’s been very dedicated to this city and is just a great guy,” says Councilman William Gallman, Jr., “I need some proof.”

Gallman says that he has never heard Cosgrove use any racist or sexist language.

“Show me text messages, email messages – some type of audio sound with him on it,” Gallman says – but admits that he has not seen the Union County prosecutor’s report on Cosgrove.

RELATED: State AG removes Union County prosecutor amid Elizabeth police scandal 
RELATED: Group calls for Elizabeth police director to resign for using racist, misogynistic language 

Ismial is now calling on Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage to stop in. He showed up at City Hall Monday with a petition calling for Cosgrove to be removed.

“Hundreds to thousands of people agree with us, that the director must go. Now if [Bollwage] is going to remain the mayor in 2020, when his election is up, he better do the smart thing. Because just as much as we voted him in, we can vote him out,” says Ismial.

Neither Cosgrove nor Bollwage responded to News 12 New Jersey’s requests for comment Monday. Gallman said Bollwage is expected to meet with Attorney General Grewal on Tuesday.

Bollwage did respond to some of the criticism on Twitter – particularly about his portrayal in an op-ed piece by the Star Ledger.

“The character assassination by the Star Ledger directed at me shows that citizens are entitled to due process except when dealing with the media. Trump reference to #Fake News resonates,” Bollwage tweeted.

The mayor added that when he finishes the process he will make a statement.

The Office of the Attorney General has ordered an audit of the Elizabeth Police Department's workplace culture. Personnel will also undergo sensitivity training.

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