MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Twenty-three police departments in Middlesex County have each been awarded $5,000 to fund programs designed to combat crimes that impair residents’ quality of life, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced last week.
The grants, awarded for the third year under Kaplan’s community policing initiative, encourage various police departments in the county to focus on issues and problems that are of great concern to local residents.
This year, municipal police departments in Carteret, Cranbury, Dunellen, East Brunswick, Edison, Highland Park, Metuchen, Middlesex Borough, Milltown, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, Sayreville, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South River, Spotswood and Woodbridge, as well as the Rutgers University Police Department, will be receiving grants.
Departments that applied for the grants were required to meet with various community leaders, civic groups and religious organizations to identify areas of concern, and then develop programs designed to address those matters.
In some communities, police increased patrols around religious centers, concentrated police squads on burglaries of homes and cars, or used funds to apply toward the purchase of security cameras in high-crime neighborhoods.
“For the third year, the police departments in Middlesex County are successfully identifying and addressing a range of community concerns, and, in the process, are developing greater ties with residents and community leaders in Middlesex County,” Kaplan said.
“These grants go a long way to not only help improve the quality of life for residents, but create new avenues of communication and trust between residents and the police,” Kaplan said.
Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, who is chair of the county’s Public Safety and Health Committee, has been an advocate of finding ways to keep police in tune with the needs of their communities.
“With the implementation of these programs, the residents of Middlesex County can be assured that the police are aware of community concerns and are always willing to respond with innovative and effective community policing programs,” Polos said.
“Once again, I applaud the work and dedication of the Prosecutor’s Office on behalf of our residents,” said Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano.
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.
Kaplan has allocated $115,000 in funds that were seized from criminal defendants who had obtained proceeds though illegal activities, such as selling drugs. The transfer of funds required review and approval by the state Office of the Attorney General, which granted the request.