BERGEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR ANNOUNCES COUNTY-WIDE SECURITY INITIATIVE FOR HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND INCREASED PATROLS AT AREA SCHOOLS
For Immediate Release:
May 25, 2022
Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella and Chief Jason Love announced a county-wide plan to enhance security at houses of worship in response to increasing acts of domestic terrorism across the country. Additionally, in the wake of yesterday’s horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Bergen County law enforcement agencies are dedicating officers to conduct additional patrols and be present at all schools.
On Thursday, May 19, 2022, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives Jason Love held a virtual briefing for clergy leaders to provide information regarding the County’s deployment of additional law enforcement resources to patrol and safeguard community gatherings in the upcoming weeks. Chief Love announced that the Prosecutor’s Office and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Anthony Cureton, have committed to an increased presence by the County’s Rapid Deployment Team in our communities with particular focus on houses of worship at strategic times throughout the summer. This previous weekend, May 20 through 22, members of the Bergen County Rapid Deployment Team visited more than 105 houses of worship, malls, and schools. Similarly, local law enforcement agencies are dedicating resources to ensure a regular presence at area schools in these final weeks of the school year.
“Although there is no credible threat to our area, we feel it is important to heighten our deployment and presence in and around houses of worship starting this weekend,” stated Chief Love. “Over the summer, the public should expect to see high visibility patrols with officers in tactical gear including helmets and rifles and recognize that those officers are not responding to an incident but are there to deter anyone intending to carry out an act of violence. We also appreciate the efforts of all 70 local police departments who have committed to increasing their presence in and around schools throughout the County.”
Prosecutor Musella said, “The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office condemns the actions of the individuals who recently carried out brutal acts of terror against innocent people in Buffalo, New York and California, as well as the unspeakable actions of the school shooter in Uvalde, Texas. Targeted and deliberate attacks against people because of their race or religion are especially heinous because they terrorize whole communities not only on that day, but as individuals go about their daily lives wondering where acts of bias will be acted upon. This increased presence is intended to deter and reassure. We are committed to keeping all of Bergen County’s residents safe whether at home, work, school, or while traveling on our roads or shopping in one of our many malls.”
“The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office is against all acts of violence, bias, and hate. Recent incidents of terror and death caused by atrocious acts of violence in Buffalo, New York, Laguna, California and Uvalde, Texas have prompted organized efforts of random security checks of houses of worship and increased patrol presence at Bergen County schools and other high-density areas. These incidents are isolated and have not been verified to have a nexus within Bergen County. Remember, if you see something say something,” Sheriff Anthony Cureton said.
Haworth Police Chief Michael Gracey, President of the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association, said, “Our first priority must be to keep our most vulnerable residents safe. Our children should never have to worry whether they are safe in our schools, and parents should not have to hesitate before sending their kids to school. All of Bergen County’s Chiefs of Police are committed to protecting our schools, houses of worship, and communities.”
Anyone who has been the victim of a bias incident or bias crime is encouraged to call 911 and report it to their local police department. Acts of bias may also be reported through the Bias Incident Reporting Form available on the New Jersey Attorney General’s website at www.njoag.gov.