MORRIS COUNTY — Prosecutor Fredric Knapp and Deputy Chief of Investigations Stephen Wilson attended the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness quarterly Interfaith Advisory Council meeting at Christ Church’s West Campus in Rockaway, on March 14. The guest speakers at this event included the Director of the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Jared Maples, FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Gallagher, Pastor David Ireland of Christ Church, Jeff Gold of NJOHSP, and Chief of the Grants Bureau at the NJOHSP Dan Morocco.
The purpose of the quarterly Interfaith Advisory Council meetings are to create strong and lasting partnerships between local clergy, community leaders, law enforcement, and the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. They give these various members of the community a platform to host positive discussions, concerning the best methods of ensuring that all parties have the capability to work together to create a safe environment.
Director Maples opened up the morning with some welcoming remarks, thanking Pastor Ireland and the Christ Church for hosting the event, as well as their local partnerships such as the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office for attending. He kept his remarks brief, but the one main point that he got across to the audience, was that the first responders in New Jersey are working with the NJOHSP, to become “first preventers”. Director Maples stressed the importance of preventing major incidents before they occur.
Following Director Maples, the next speaker was FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Gallagher. Agent Gallagher spoke on how the NJOHSP has been working to foster relationships with community leaders. He specifically noted that their goal is to get to know local clergy and county leaders on a one to one basis, so that if the time comes when there is an incident, all stake holders they will already have a working relationship.
Pastor Ireland spoke on behalf of Christ Church and their two parishes, one in Rockaway and the other in Montclair. He ran a short presentation focusing on Christ Church’s goals of reaching the younger generation. Pastor Ireland aims to rebrand the church, while maintaining the message that has drawn approximately 9,000 people to their congregation. In this day and age, young men and women need a safe space to speak about their problems, or problems they see in the world, and Pastor Ireland wants them to know that Christ Church is open for that.
Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) plays a major part in the work that the NJOHSP does. Jeff Gold broke down the various ways that their office has worked with the community in the past to stress how useful SAR can be. Partnerships with the New York Giants, New York Jets, and NJ Transit have helped spread the “See Something, Say Something” campaign.
The final speaker of the morning was the Chief of the Grants Bureau at NJOHSP Dan Morocco. He spoke on the newly created Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program, which is a competitive grant program that has one million dollars available in 2018. This program will allow approximately one hundred recipients to afford security at their offices, and events, ultimately making New Jersey a safer place for all involved.
Following the speakers, an open forum was held, so that all attendees had the opportunity to share their ideas, as well as ask questions of the NJOHSP representatives. The forum lasted approximately one half hour, and allowed the various community leaders and clergy to meet each other.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Prosecutor Knapp embrace the opportunity to work closely with local clergy and community leaders throughout Morris County.