ELIZABETH, NJ — Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove has resigned his post after more than 20 years following a Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigation that determined he used racial slurs and vulgar slang to refer to black and women members of his staff.
The announcement, posted on Mayor Chris Bollwage’s social media accounts on April 29, came four days after state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal replaced Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael Monahan with First Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Davenport.
Gurbir also designated another aide, Joseph Walsh, special assistant to the attorney general, to serve as “counsel to Acting Prosecutor Davenport.” Walsh was charged with overseeing the internal affairs functions of the Elizabeth Police Department.
“After meeting with the attorney general today and discussing a path forward, I have accepted the resignation of Police Director Cosgrove,” Bollwage wrote. “Our conversation centered on changing personnel in the Internal Affairs Department, as only the chief of the police department has that power.”
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under Monahan, announced April 23 that it had assumed oversight of the Elizabeth Police Department’s internal affairs division.
Both announcements were the latest developments following complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office by Westfield attorney Josh McMahon, filed in February, accusing Cosgrove of using a disparaging term in reference to women and a slur in reference to black people in the Elizabeth Police Department.
McMahon represents a woman in a civil matter against Cosgrove that repeats many of the same charges.
An April 16 letter signed by Monahan to McMahon said the Prosecutor’s Office investigation “sustained” that Cosgrove “has used derogatory terms in the workplace when speaking about city employees.”
In announcing the appointment of Davenport to replace Monahan, Grewal said he was acting on authority granted him under the Criminal Justice Act of 1970 to install his aide — since governors have the constitutional authority to appoint prosecutors, and called on Cosgrove to resign.
“One of the core responsibilities of an effective law enforcement leader is to maintain the trust of the community he or she serves,” Grewal said. “Director Cosgrove has violated that trust and, in doing so, undermined confidence in our system of justice. I believe that Director Cosgrove should resign his position immediately.
“Conduct like this requires a prompt, comprehensive response.”
In his statement, Bollwage also referred to a “whistle-blower complaint filed by an officer against Police Chief John Brennan.”
He said it also was discussed with Grewal.
“In order to truly change the culture of the police department, I am also calling on Chief Brennan to step aside during this investigation,” Bollwage wrote.
“As Acting Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport proceeds with the investigation, I pledge our cooperation in ensuring the police department is sensitive to the needs of our residents.