The president and CEO of Fox News Channel, Roger Ailes, has a well-documented fear of being targeted or assassinated by liberals, gay people, Muslims, even President Obama. To counter these imaginary threats, Ailes has enlisted personal bodyguards, installed dozens of security cameras throughout his homes, and obtained a handgun license. He’s also made very good friends with the local cops of Cresskill, New Jersey.
According to police records obtained by Gawker, the Cresskill Police Department supplies 24/7 security to Ailes’ residence there—apparently at no cost to Ailes himself—and otherwise delivers on-demand police services to his family, regardless of whether or not they are in any obvious danger.
This unusual (and expensive) arrangement, which has been kept under wraps until now, troubled police ethics experts we spoke with. But it’s certainly come in handy: When the Ailes household reported a suspicious suitcase left near the end of their driveway in January 2013, the Cresskill police quickly notified an out-of-town bomb squad. After all, President Obama had taken his second oath of office two days prior—and someone like Ailes can never be too careful.
Between January 2012 and June 2014, Ailes or another member of his family contacted the Cresskill Police Department at least 16 times. This isn’t necessarily surprising—as we noted a few years ago, Ailes and his family members have a history of summoning the cops all the time, either by accident or for no reason at all. And the newer records, which were released under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, indicate that the latest calls were mostly triggered when the house's burglar alarm was accidentally set off by one of the Aileses, their dog, or a contractor.
But two particular calls in the most recent batch of records, in January and November of 2013, illustrate the Aileses’ special relationship with the police.
The most recent incident, on November 30, began when a male caller who appears to have been Ailes contacted C.P.D. from a residence somewhere out of town—presumably the home Ailes maintains in Garrison, New York. He was calling to let the Cresskill police know that he had gotten a call from his alarm company: “for the house he is currently in now which is not in Cresskill,” the report explained.
Because the alarm company had called him about the one house—which was not in Cresskill—Ailes wanted the police in Cresskill to check his other house too, “to make sure everything was OK,” according to the report. Despite the lack of any tangible threat, the department dutifully sent three squad cars to the empty residence.
The responding officers found a sliding door left unlocked, and they locked it for Ailes. They also apparently managed to set off the burglar alarm while they were there—underscoring the pointlessness of the check-in—and it kept going off for an hour, until the cops called Ailes for instructions in how to shut it off.
|November 30, 2013 police report · Full Document|
The other evidence of Ailes’ special relationship with the police came earlier that year. On January 23—two days after Obama’s 2013 inauguration—the Cresskill police called a bomb squad to Ailes’ residence.
According to C.P.D.’s abbreviated police report, a caller at Ailes’ residence reported “a suitcase left at the north end of the driveway.” In response, C.P.D. deployed six squad cars to the scene, evacuated the Ailes residence, cordoned several nearby streets, and requested the assistance of the Bergen County Police Department’s bomb squad.
This is where things took a strange turn. Notes taken by a Bergen County dispatcher indicate that Cresskill police requested that Ailes’ address be “not put out over the air due to the sensitive status of the location.” The same notes show that a Cresskill officer advised the dispatcher that they were dealing with “a high-profile residence” and that C.P.D. and another (unnamed) agency “provide 24-hour security @ this residence.”
|January 23, 2013 police report · Full Document|
One of the Bergen County bomb squad’s members, Lieutenant John LaDuca, told Gawker that this was “a pretty normal type of call for us.” But he recalled an unusually anxious atmosphere in Cresskill that day. “They didn’t want it to be known—they obviously didn’t want to publicize that that’s where Mr. Ailes lives,” he said.
In any case: There was no bomb, or bomber, at Ailes’ house. According to an accompanying police narrative, LaDuca and his partner X-rayed the suspicious black suitcase, found it was completely empty, and later disposed of it. (The same narrative mistakenly identifies the residence’s owner as “an executive with CNN” who has “has received threats in the past.” The source of the mistaken network affiliation is unclear, but New Jersey property records make it clear that they’re talking about Ailes.)
The fact that the Cresskill Police Department marshaled nine cops, eight law enforcement vehicles, and an out-of-town bomb squad to deal with a random black suitcase seems remarkably heavy-handed. (The department’s patrol division employs just 15 officers.) But the claim that the police are providing a 24-hour security detail of a private individual’s residence is even more unusual.
“With regard to police officers providing a dedicated security detail to a private citizen, it would be highly irregular for officers to do so while on duty during their regular work schedule,” Carmen said. “ The only exception would be for a public figure—for example an attorney general or the President of the United States.”
“The cost of doing 24/7 coverage would be enormous, especially for a small department,” O’Donnell wrote in an email. “It is not unusual to double the salary cost of officers to account for benefits and deferred compensation they receive, i.e. an $80,000 cop may cost upwards of $160,000—could be less here, but not likely much less.”
Regarding the situation’s ethics, O’Donnell added: “It is a thorny situation because [Ailes] no doubt receives threats. However, he probably has adequate resources to provide his own protection. There also should be mechanism for assessing threats and sunsetting protection at some point. He could reimburse the CPD for this, but that would raise more ethical questions.”
do not maintain records on the addresses or names of “sensitive status” or “high profile” individuals, but if we did I would certainly not provide you with that information under OPRA [Open Public Records Act] exemptions.
As for the Bergen County police’s account of Cresskill providing 24-hour security for Ailes, the chief wrote that it “would be inaccurate as you interpret it, however all 8,000 residents of Cresskill enjoy that privilege.”
Wrixon added, “I do not intend to provide an interview or further discuss any aspect of my [agency’s] procedures .” He did not respond to subsequent requests for clarification.
Roger Ailes and Fox News did not acknowledge several requests for comment on this story. In 2011, Ailes told Gawker that the numerous police calls from his residence were the result of “a standard automatic alarm system that was triggered accidentally half a dozen times over half a dozen years,” mostly by his mother-in-law. It is not clear whether the Cresskill Police Department was providing 24-hour security to his residence at the time.