Security Bill for Non-Profits Picks up Key Sponsor

NEW JERSEY -
N.J. Senator Patrick Diegnan and Rabbi Avi Schnall. (Agudath Israel of America)

A bill that could give generous security grants to shuls, non-public schools, and other non-profit institutions in New Jersey moved one step closer to advancing through the legislature this week, as a key member of the senate committee which deals with secure issues agreed to sign on as a primary sponsor.

The bill was authored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Chairwoman of the Assembly Homeland Security Committee. If signed into law, it would allow all non-profits in the state to apply for $15,000 grants for security expenditures. The bill calls for a $500,000 allotment to be made available for the grants.

Sen. Patrick Diegnan, Vice Chairman of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, this week agreed to serve as the legislation’s sponsor in the senate after the topic was introduced to him at a meeting with Rabbi Avi Schnall, Director of Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey office. Rabbi Schnall told Hamodia that he was confident that with Sen. Diegan’s sponsorship, the bill would begin to advance in the next few weeks.

We live in dangerous world, where Jews and other minorities are a particular target, he said. “We look forward to celebrating its implementation, which will result in enhanced security for vulnerable communities across our state.”

The bill is based on the already existing Federal Homeland Security grants which can only be used to purchase equipment such as cameras and barriers. The grants presently being proposed in New Jersey would allow institutions to hire live security guards for large events that they feel pose a unique security risk. Institutions would be able to receive both the Federal and state grants concurrently.

Last year, legislation championed by Assemblyman Gary Schear allotted funds for security spending into the yearly budgets for all non-public schools, a program that many yeshivos and Jewish Day Schools have taken advantage of in the past year.