MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Local police departments will divide $120,000 in grants to develop community policing programs, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced today.
The grant money will be used to create a variety of programs aimed at enhancing public awareness while combating such crimes as bias intimidation, bullying and vandalism.
The $5,000 “Law Enforcement Response to Community Concerns Grant” will be awarded to 22 municipal police departments in the county, and to the Rutgers University Police Department and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department.
The municipal departments that will be receiving grants are Carteret, Dunellen, East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, Middlesex Borough, Milltown, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, Sayreville, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, South River, Spotswood and Woodbridge.
The grants will be used to help enforce laws aimed at protecting the quality of life for Middlesex County residents. The grant program is sponsored by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Kaplan, with approval from the Office of the Attorney General, is allocating $120,000 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 qualify for a grant, each police department was 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.
In South River, police, with assistance from school officials and parents, are planning to initiate a popular and successful educational program to dissuade children from becoming bullies.
The program, “Rachel’s Challenge,” offers a powerful presentation on the life of the first child killed at Columbine High School in 1999, as youngsters learn the consequences of bullying.
Police in Edison are planning a crackdown on graffiti by increasing patrols of vulnerable neighborhoods, enforcing laws regarding quick cleanups, purchasing a power-sprayer, and inviting local civic and youth groups to help clean spoiled properties.
Following several incidents in which pedestrians were struck at a crosswalk near the Metuchen train station, police in that community are planning to present an extensive educational program to convince pedestrians to obey crossing signals at the Main Street, Penn Avenue intersection, and enforce laws requiring motorists to yield to pedestrians.
Monroe Township police are seeking to enhance community safety by increasing police presence during periods leading up to religious holidays and holy days.
The grants also are being used to reimburse overtime to police who participate in specific programs, but cannot be used to supplant existing patrols, existing programs or equipment and cannot be used for administrative purposes.
Grants totaling $110,000 were awarded last year to various police departments in the county.
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