TRENTON, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy has signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset/Hunterdon/Middlesex/Mercer) that will offer grants to nonprofits, including houses of worship, to increase security and keep families safe from violence, and threats of bias and intimidation.
“We all need be extremely concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and bias crimes in our country. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation, but these crimes are happening here, too,” Bateman said. “There was a 32 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 in our state. I am glad to see us take action on a bipartisan basis to stand up to hate and ensure that our houses of worship and nonprofits can continue to be beacons of hope for people in need. No one should be forced to worship in fear.”
The legislation amends the “New Jersey Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program” to permit eligible nonprofit organizations to use grant funding to take action to safeguard their facilities.
These security measures could include acquiring target hardening equipment, such as security doors or windows; or hiring permanent or temporary security personnel to guard the premises. The grant program is housed within the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Under the law, each eligible nonprofit could receive a maximum grant award of $50,000 for target hardening equipment. Applicants are permitted to apply for either personnel or equipment grants, or both, in each year of the pilot program, but OHSP may only award funds for one of the two purposes in a given year.
Nationally, in 2017, there was a 57 percent increase from 2016 in anti-Semitic incidents and, for the first time, anti-Semitism was reported in all 50 states, including New Jersey, which saw a 32 percent spike.
The state Attorney General also reported that, in 2016, bias and hate crimes in New Jersey increased nearly 14 percent from the previous year.
In 2016 alone, 124 incidents involved victims targeted for their Jewish faith and an additional 26 incidents involved victims targeted for their Muslim faith. According to the FBI, the greatest increase in faith-based crimes was against Muslims, an increase of 19 percent from 2015 to 2016.
“Hate has no home in New Jersey,” Bateman said. “We cannot stay silent and allow people to threaten our communities or the people that live and worship here. We are in the midst of a difficult chapter in our nation’s history, but we can’t lose hope.
“This legislation sends the message that we are committed to keeping New Jersey a welcoming place for everyone: regardless of your faith or national origin, please know that we will work hard to keep you safe. I am very proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort and I look forward to embracing future opportunities to promote peace and tolerance for all.”