Morris County District Attorney Robert J. Carroll and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon hosted a presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 2 intended to educate Jewish places of worship about available security resources and their worshipers on how to react to threats.
Titled “Defending Our Faith: A Community Approach,” the summit included an introduction given by Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and Rabbi Levi Dubinsky.
Acting Attorney General Bruck and Rabbi Dubinsky both stressed the importance of preparedness and communication between religious leaders and law enforcement at all levels to keep worshipers safe from violence, according to a statement released Thursday by the county attorney’s office.
Special guest speaker Bonnie Cytron shared her family’s experience.
On January 15, she said her son-in-law, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, and others were detained for hours during a hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel Hostage in Colleyville, Texas.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Senior Resident Supervisory Officer Joel Mack gave a limited law enforcement briefing to attendees about the incident in Texas.
An overview of how federal, state, county and local agencies share preparedness information and resources was presented by Jim McDavitt, NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Program Director Jim McDavitt, Morris County District Attorney’s Office Captain Jan Monrad, Sgt. Thomas Joiner and director Patrick J. Owens. Director Owens also informed the public about how the MCPO is available to perform vulnerability risk assessments upon request in places of worship, the importance of advance preparation by congregants, such as training of safety committees, and available state and federal grants.
Community leaders and members were able to engage with law enforcement after the presentations.
“We have brought together some of the best law enforcement professionals to provide important information and advice to our faith leaders to improve their preparedness to deal with the evils that exist today. Additionally, we hope these presentations will enable our faith leaders to better inform their congregations if they are faced with such a chilling event,” Carroll said.
“Communication is critical to law enforcement response times and we believe we have established lines of communication between our faith leaders and our law enforcement agencies, particularly with each facility and their local police department. Law enforcement at all levels will do everything possible to protect our citizens and places of worship from these depraved predators.
Sheriff Gannon said: “This program has continued our commitment to the faith community that we stand for, before the religious community, and we are committed to keeping them safe in the exercise of their religious freedom. Have everyone from the local police chief, county attorney’s office, county sheriff’s office, NJ office of homeland security and preparedness, NJ attorney general and FBI management in discussions with the leadership of the Jewish community did not occur everywhere. We are all committed to this mission and will continue to explore strategies so that no one is subjected to this type of terror again.