Community representatives and law enforcement gathered for a roundtable meeting on June 6th at the New Jersey State Police Headquarters in Totowa, a golden opportunity to discuss shared concerns in light of a recent wave of hate crimes and bias incidents that have raised serious security issues, both in New Jersey and nationwide.
Major Michael Devlin of NJSP’s Troop B delivered opening remarks. He was followed by NJSP Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes, who addressed security matters that reflect community concerns and welcomed over 100 participants, .
Several speakers discussed various aspects of cultural awareness and the importance of continuing collaborations between faith-based communities and law enforcement as an effective crime-fighting tool, while representatives of the Attorney General’s office and several law enforcement agencies assured community representatives that there will be a zero tolerance policy on all hate crimes.
The event included an informative video on community policing, remarks by Acting Director Jared Maples of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness on bias crimes, and additional presentations by the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the United States Postal Service Inspection Service.
A special presentation honored Colonel Fuentes and Superintendent Michael Fedorko of the Port Authority Police Department for their accomplishments.
Several dozen members of law enforcement on both the federal and local levels attended the meeting, including Timothy Gallagher, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark offices, Captain Brian Polite of the NJSP Office of Public Affairs, Lieutenant John Paige of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Deputy Chief of Detectives Weldon A. Powell of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Director Thomas Carter of the TSA’s Newark offices, Port Director Ed Fox of the Port Authority, U.S. Marshal Juan Matos, Special Agent in Charge Carl Kotluski of the Drug Enforcement Agency, a representative of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Chief Greg Meyer of the Lakewood Police Department, representatives of the Ocean, Passaic, Hudson and Bergen County Prosecutor’s Offices, Meir Lichtenstein of the Lakewood Township Committee, Sheriff’s chaplain Joel Friedman, and NJSP chaplain Yossi Hershkowitz.
“On day one of the academy, we are taught that the level of crime or negative quality of life issues within a community will only be that which the community will tolerate,” said Al Della Fave, public affairs director at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. “The best law enforcement leaders and executives never forget this lesson. This annual meeting provides an outstanding opportunity to foster critical community support, connectivity and cooperation with law enforcement in order to assure safe and secure communities.”
Teaneck Mayor Eli Katz and Lakewood Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller both noted that understanding cultural norms is a crucial step in implementing proper security practices.
Bergen County Sheriff Mike Saudino touched on the collaboration between his office and the local community.
Captain Brian Polite of the NJSP Office of Public Affairs took advantage of the opportunity to thank the many chaplains in attendance for their continued efforts.
New Jersey State Police chaplain Rabbi Abe Friedman praised representatives of both the government and law enforcement for their continued efforts on behalf of the state’s many communities.