Jersey City Mayor Removes Chief of Police

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has removed Police Chief Robert Cowan as head of the police department a mere nine months after he was sworn in to the post.

In a June 25 letter, Fulop says Cowan has been involved in “many challenging events and initiatives” throughout the past year, but has failed to cooperate with the administration to bring those initiatives to fruition. Fulop, who was elected over longtime incumbent Jerramiah Healy last year, says this move is one of several planned administration changes.

Fulop’s letter states the city is unable to move forward with Cowan heading the 800-member force, as Cowan has done little to alleviate low morale and has “refused” to implement structural changes requested by the administration. Further, Fulop says he is alarmed by the increasing number lawsuits against Cowan accusing him of “political retaliation.” Since October, at least three officers have filed suit against Cowan for allegedly reassigning them for politically-motivated reasons.

From the letter:

Instead of supporting these policy decisions, you have repeatedly expressed your opposition to these structural changes needed to protect the City and the taxpayers. As you may know, the restructuring of the JCPD is currently before the City Council for consideration and we simply cannot move forward with these necessary structural changes to the JCPD under your leadership … we have also grown concerned with the number of lawsuits filed against your office for retaliation. As a part of this concern and compounding it are the continued assertions by the collective bargaining units representing your subordinates that they are unable to work with you.

Cowan is a 34-year veteran of the force and previously served as deputy police chief. As per state law, Cowan’s removal will take effect in 20 days.

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