MIDDLESEX COUNTY – The Middlesex County Prosecutor is offering $135,000 in grants to the county’s local police departments for the development of programs aimed at enhancing public awareness while combating a variety of crimes, including bias intimidation, bullying and vandalism.
A $5,000 “Law Enforcement Response to Community Concerns Grant” will be available to each of the county’s 25 municipal police departments, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and the Rutgers University Police Department to help enforce laws aimed at protecting the quality of life for Middlesex County residents. The grant is sponsored by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
To fund the program, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan, in accordance with guidelines established by the Office of the Attorney General, is allocating a total of $135,000 in funds that were seized from criminal defendants who had obtained proceeds though illegal activities, such as selling drugs.
“These grants can help protect and improve the quality of life for all the citizens of Middlesex County,” Kaplan said. “This has always been a goal of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.”
“Our goal is for our residents to have safe communities to live in, to work in and to play in,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Ronald G. Rios, chair of the county’s Law and Public Safety Committee. “I applaud the efforts of the prosecutor’s office and of the local law enforcement agencies who participate in this program because they are helping us protect and improve our residents’ quality of life.”
In order to obtain a grant, each police department is required to develop a plan that seeks to deal with a quality-of-life issue, such as curbing graffiti, criminal mischief, bullying or bias-related crimes.
In addition, police departments may offer an educational component that enhances community awareness of relevant law, as well as the public’s rights and responsibilities.
Participants also may seek to enhance community safety by increasing police presence during periods leading up to religious holidays and holy days. The grants also may be used to reimburse overtime to police who participate in specific programs, but cannot be used to supplant existing patrols or equipment and cannot be used for administrative purposes.
Departments must apply no later than Aug. 5, and, if approved, must initiate their program by Sept. 1.
Grants totaling $110,000 were awarded last year to departments that developed programs dealing with bias crimes. This year, police will have the option of developing programs to deal with other crimes that adversely impact the quality of life in communities.
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