PRESS RELEASE January-15-2020

Senate Approves Cryan-Sweeney Bill to Protect Against Bias-Related Attacks

Additional Funding To Improve Safety for Churches, Synagogues, Mosques & Other Non-Profit Organizations

TRENTON – Reacting to the increase in bias-inspired attacks on churches, synagogues, mosques and social service organizations, the Senate today approved a bill, S-4347, authored by Senator Joe Cryan and Senate President Steve Sweeney to provide additional support for security.

The additional $1 million would double this year’s funding to $2 million for the “New Jersey Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program,” which provides grants to protect places of worship and other vulnerable organizations from violence by funding additional security measures. The number of applicants has increased dramatically as bias incidents have grown.

Senator Cryan, who previously served as Union County Sherriff, said the funding will help improve security that “protects the facilities, their staffs and the people they serve with equipment and personnel.”

“We have witnessed a disturbing increase in the number of incidents of hate and bigotry based on race, religion and ethnicity,” said Senator Joe Cryan (D-Union). “We can’t ignore these threats and we should not tolerate any acts of violence or intimidation. These incidents are a daily challenge for houses of worship, community centers, family and children services agencies and other non-profit institutions that are most vulnerable.”

“No individual, group or organization should be left vulnerable to any threats or acts of violence because of their race, religion or heritage,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Places of worship and any other locations that bring people together will be better protected with this support. We won’t allow bias or hate to intimidate anyone from practicing their religion or honoring their ethnic pride.”

Senator Cryan also sponsored a 2019 law expanding the scope of the grant program to include “target hardening” equipment, such as cameras, barriers and cybersecurity measures, and to hire security personnel.

New Jersey reported 944 “bias incidents” last year, according to the Attorney General, an increase of 66 percent over the previous year when there were 569 incidents.

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 40-0.