National Organization for Women of New Jersey was dismayed to learn that Elizabeth Police
Director James Cosgrove, who has been in the position for over 20 years, made a habit of using
racist and misogynistic slurs when referring to his staff. A two-month long investigation by the
Union County Prosecutor’s office found that Cosgrove routinely used the ‘n-word’ and the ‘cword.’
This is especially shocking in a minority-majority city like Elizabeth where a large
percentage of the population Cosgrove is charged with serving is comprised of people of color.
The silence from Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, the only one with the authority to fire
Cosgrove is both deafening and unacceptable.
We simultaneously applaud Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal for taking swift action on the
findings of the investigation. We strongly believe that the placement of the Elizabeth Police
Department’s Internal Affairs Division under direct control of the Union County Prosecutor’s
Office is the correct move. The launch of an audit into the hiring and personnel practices and the
workplace culture inside the Elizabeth Police Department, along with mandatory bias and sexual
harassment training for all police officers are additional steps in the right direction. And in light
of the inaction from the leadership in Elizabeth, we echo the Attorney General’s call for the
Police Director to tender his resignation, effective immediately.
Elena Gonzalez, Board Secretary of National Organization for Women of New Jersey and a
former police officer herself, says, “Bad behavior by the men in power in a police department is
hardly something new. I faced similar harassment and gender discrimination for twelve years in
my workplace. I did not feel like I had a voice. I commend Attorney General Grewal for standing
up for the brave men and women who make up the rank and file. In a county that prides itself
for having a female-majority on its Freeholder Board, the fact that this kind of behavior can go
unchecked at its county seat is incomprehensible. I urge the elected officials in Union County to
become the voice of the citizens and the police officers of Elizabeth who are seeking change and
do the right thing.”
Download the press release here.