Police with rifles and tactical gear will be visible at Bergen County schools, houses of worship

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Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella and Chief Jason Love announced the county-wide plan in response to increasing acts of domestic terrorism across the country and in the wake of the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

On Thursday, May 19, Love hosted 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.  Love announced the prosecutor’s office and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Anthony Cureton, have committed an increased presence by the county’s Rapid Deployment Team with particular focus on houses of worship at strategic times throughout the summer.

A few days ago — May 20 through 22 — members of the 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 the final weeks of the 2021-2022 academic 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,” Love said. “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.”

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 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.”

Anyone who has been the victim of a bias incident or bias crime is encouraged to call 911 or to 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.

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