Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon joined Rabbinical College of America leaders, two United States Congressmen from Texas, and other community and religious leaders on June 14 for a wide-ranging, roundtable luncheon discussion about security concerns, anti-Semitism, and the global opioid crisis.
Sheriff Gannon was a special guest of Dr. Munr Kazmir, a trustee of the renowned Rabbinical College of America in Morris Township and Vice Chairman of the American Jewish Congress. Sheriff Gannon joined guests United States Congressmen Michael T. McCaul Sr., and Will B. Hurd of Texas, along with Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and other community and religious leaders and officials.
The Rabbinical College of America Dean, Rabbi Moshe Herson, told the group that security at the College, a Chabad Lubovich campus which also has a primary school, is paramount in a world that is seeing an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
“This concern is not only ours, it’s a concern of the world,” Rabbi Herson said.
Sheriff Gannon stressed that security at schools and religious institutions in Morris County – which has 317 houses of worship, including 34 with Jewish congregations – is always a priority. Sheriff Gannon said officers in his department and local police routinely check houses of worship and religious institutions and extra patrols are directed to those locations during holidays.
The Sheriff’s Office, along with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, also are involved in assessing and advising the institutions on security infrastructure needs and paying close attention to behaviors that come to the attention of law enforcement that could put religious communities at risk, Sheriff Gannon said.
The Sheriff told the group he met earlier in the week with Chabad rabbis in Morris County to discuss their security concerns. Another group participant, military veteran and former Nutley police officer Steven L. Rogers, who now is on the Advisory Board of Donald J. Trump For President, noted the importance of having police on the streets to meet residents and be alert for information about plans for wrongdoing.
U.S. Rep. McCaul, who represents the 10th Congressional District in Texas and now is the ranking top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that $75 million in federal grants are being earmarked to assist Jewish organizations with security projects.
“We want to make sure there’s no place for anti-Semitism in this country or in this world,” Congressman McCaul said.
Another topic that was common ground for the group was the need to curb the opioid epidemic, which led to Sheriff Gannon describing the program he launched in April 2017 – the Hope One mobile substance use outreach vehicle that visits areas in Morris County twice-weekly to offer free Narcan training and kits and guide people, with a stigma-free attitude, on substance use treatment options.
U.S. Rep. Hurd, a former CIA agent, left the luncheon believing that a dialogue was started: “The only way we’re going to solve our problems is if local communities, religious organizations and law enforcement work together,” he said.
Guests at the Rabbinical College of America on Friday also included Morris County Freeholder Heather Darling, Morris County First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Zelante, Assemblies of God Bible Institute Rev. Raphael Ha, Dennis Gonzalez, Executive Officer of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, Region 2, and Raj Patel.