It has been a trying few months for our Jersey City community.

Just as we began emerging from the gloom brought on by the vicious murder that took the life of our JCPD hero Detective Joseph Seals, as well three other innocent lives, the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

For much of the past seven weeks, our members have been, under great threat from exposure to the virus, continuing to uphold their oath of to protect and serve the residents of our great city. The reality is, while the vast majority of those that call Jersey City home have abided by the “stay at home” orders, some have, unfortunately, continued to make criminality a way of life.

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However, when a spate of violence erupted over a number of days in April the Jersey City Police Department worked hard to restore calm. And, last week, when confronted by a crowd that reached as high as 100, and with their lives at risk, our members showed great restraint in efforts to enforce social distancing measures, one of the only tools we have in our defense against this deadly pandemic. This has all been done as the law enforcement community has maintained focus on ongoing investigations including the one that led to the arrest of a Georgia man that is responsible for at least seven guns ending up on our streets.

All of this has provided a stark reminder of how important it is that the Jersey City Police Department, and all of the men and women that serve in it, are equipped with the tools, resources, and training we need to maintain our steady fight against crime. While we have long found ourselves under resourced, there is growing concern that political wrangling in Washington D.C., when it comes to the distribution of COVID-19 recovery funds, will compound the financial strain in our community, filtering down to law enforcement operations. 

However, there is an immediate way that every Jersey City resident can help combat this. Being counted in Census 2020 takes minutes, is safe, and has an impact that will last throughout the next 10 years. The reality is that many of the federal dollars our city leaders request for services like police and fire, as well as for our classrooms where public safety really starts, are dictated by population count, and being underrepresented in the once a decade count means that when resources are divided and distributed we are left behind. In total, estimates show the amount of spending that will be dictated by popluation count between 2021 and 2030 will total in the trillions. 

My request, coming during Police Week, a time when we would normally be gathering to memorialize the men and women in law enforcement, like Detective Seals, that gave their lives protecting others, is a simple one: Be Counted.

Carmine Disbrow is the President of the Jersey City Police Officers' Benevolent Association