A bill that gives generous security grants to shuls, non-public schools, and other non-profit institutions in New Jersey was signed into law by outgoing Gov. Chris Christie.
The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), chairwoman of the Assembly Homeland Security Committee, clears the way for non-profit organizations deemed “high risk” to apply for funding of up to $10,000 per year.
“As I discussed this issue with different nonprofits within and outside of my district, I began to see that members of these communities have a legitimate concern regarding their safety,” said Quijano. “I believe we have an obligation to ensure that they have personnel on-site who can prevent and protect New Jersey residents from acts of targeted violence.”
Many institutions in the state already receive Federal Homeland Security grants; however, these can only be used to purchase equipment such as cameras and barriers. The new law now allows organizations to hire live security guards for large events that they feel pose a unique security risk.
Only institutions that have qualified for existing Homeland Security grants will be eligible, but they can receive both the federal and newly passed state grants concurrently.
Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey division, was actively involved in lobbying efforts for the bill. He welcomed its becoming law and said that the legislation “was carefully crafted to account for the needs of diverse institutions across the state.”
“With recent terror attacks in New York and other locations, we are unfortunately reminded of how necessary security measures are, especially for religious minorities that are frequently the target of hate and violence,” said the Agudah in a statement.
The bill was originally introduced in October 2016, but only recently made its way to votes in both houses of the legislature, where it passed by large and bipartisan margins. It was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Christie, who will be leaving office January 16.
Two years ago, legislation championed by Assemblyman Gary Schaer allotted funds for security spending into the state’s yearly education budget for all non-public schools, a program that many yeshivos and Jewish day schools have taken advantage of since then.