MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon hosted a presentation intended to educate the Jewish houses of worship on the security resources available and their congregants on how to respond to threats. Entitled Defending Our Faith: A Community Approach, the February 2, 2022 summit included an introduction given by Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and Rabbi Levi Dubinsky.
Acting Attorney General Bruck and Rabbi Dubinsky both emphasized the importance of preparation and communication between religious leaders and law enforcement at all levels to ensure the safety of congregants from violence from hateful evildoers.
Special guest speaker Bonnie Cytron shared her family’s experience. On January 15, 2022, her son-in-law Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and others were held for hours during a hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel Hostage in Colleyville, Texas.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Senior Supervisory Resident Agent Joel Mack gave a limited briefing from a law enforcement perspective to attendees on the Texas incident.
A rundown of how federal, state, county, and local agencies share information and preparedness resources was presented by NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness NJ-SAR’s Program Manager Jim McDavitt, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Capt. Jan Monrad, Sgt. Thomas Joiner, and Director Patrick J. Owens. Director Owens also informed the audience about how the MCPO is available to conduct Vulnerability Risk Assessments upon request at houses of worship, the importance of advance preparation by congregants such as the formation of safety committees, and what state and federal grants are available.
Senator Anthony M. Bucco (District 25) shared bills he has proposed before the Legislature pertaining to houses of worship and law enforcement. The Morris County Commissioners Stephan Shaw, Deborah Smith, Tayfun Selen and John Krickus also attended to lend their support to this effort as well as Morris Crimestoppers Chairman John Sette and Robert Wilson, Chief Security Officer Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Walter Rawa and MCSTAT Coordinator Jane Recktenwald provided an explainer on active shooter drills, including the Run, Hide, Fight strategy for civilians. A rundown of tactics and specialized response was also provided by Morris County Sheriff’s Office SERT/ESU Commander Eugene Fluri.
Community leaders and members were able to engage with law enforcement following the presentations.
“We assembled some of the best law enforcement professionals to provide important information and guidance to our faith leaders to enhance their preparation to deal with the evils that exist today. Further, we trust these presentations will enable our faith leaders to best inform their congregations if confronted with such a frightening event. Communication is critical to reaction times for law enforcement and we trust we have established lines of communication between our faith leaders and our law enforcement agencies, especially with each facility and their local police department. Law enforcement at all levels will do everything they can to protect our citizens and houses of worship from these depraved predators,” Carroll said.
“This program, continued our commitment to the faith based community that we stand, in front of the religious community, and are committed to ensure their safety as they exercise their religious freedom. To have everyone from the local Police Chief, County Prosecutors Office, County Sheriff’s Office, the NJ Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, NJ Attorney General and FBI Leadership in discussions with the Leadership of the Jewish Community doesn’t happened everywhere. We are all committed to this mission and will continue to explore strategies so that no more people are subject to this type of terror,” Gannon said.