NJ Police Chief Steps Down After Alleged Derogatory Comments on Asian American Prosecutors
A police chief in New Jersey is reportedly stepping down from his post after sparking controversy over leaked audio that apparently had him targeting individuals with derogatory statements.
Recorded insults: In an audio recording uploaded on YouTube last July 4, a voice attributed to Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo can be heard making rude comments about former acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
In the video that showed a static image of Trigo’s face, a voice described Park as “pretty hot” and “got wide ones.” The voice referred to her as “Chinese,” which is not the case.
Park, who is a member of the Council of Korean Americans, was the first Asian American county prosecutor in New Jersey.
Park is also the first female and person of color to lead the prosecutor’s office in Union County.
Meanwhile, Grewal was described as “that f—— guy with the turban.” The voice then says, “I wanna pull him like a top.”
Grewal is known as the first Sikh American county prosecutor, and later, as the first Sikh state attorney general in U.S. history.
The origin of the alleged audio remains unknown and is still under investigation by the office of Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo.
YouTube channel Fanwood Exposed, the uploader of the video, describes itself as a “news organization exposing the corruption, illegal activity, unethical, immoral, and hypocritical behavior by public officials” in the borough.
Video aftermath: On Monday, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that Trigo would be stepping down from his position as Fanwood Police Chief effective on the same day.
Trigo has reportedly informed both Mayor Colleen Mahr and the Fanwood Borough Council about his decision on July 10.
In an interview with NBC News, Lawyer Joshua McMahon claimed that Trigo stepping down was not because he was resigning or quitting.
“Any assertion to the contrary is categorically and demonstrably false,” McMahon, who represents Trigo, was quoted as saying. “Chief Trigo had previously begun the process to retire on Sept. 1, 2020 and, until that time, elected to take leave to handle a family-related health issue.”
McMahon also claimed the recordings were “manipulated and spliced,” while not directly disputing that the video’s claim that the voice is indeed Trigo’s.
“Chief Trigo, the first Spanish police Chief in Fanwood’s history, denies making any inappropriate comments,” said McMahon. “These altered recordings have unquestionably been manipulated and spliced together by persons upset with the reform and progress the Fanwood Police Department has made under Chief Trigo’s leadership, including the Chief personally hiring and promoting more minorities than any Chief in Fanwood’s history.”
Last week, Ruotolo advised the chief needs to step down if the video is authenticated or else she would remove him.
“If the recording is authenticated, and it is determined that the Chief of Police made the offensive comments in the recording, the Chief needs to immediately step down, or disciplinary action must be initiated to remove him from office,” said Ruotolo.
According to NJ.com, Ruotolo later changed her statement.
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