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Reporting bias incidents in Somerset County

Post Date:08/12/2020 10:30 AM

SOMERVILLE, N.J. - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor address a recent press release by Somerset County Sheriff Darrin J. Russo with regard to his announcement of alternative efforts the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office intends to introduce related to bias crime reporting within Somerset County.    

Prosecutor Robertson stated that according to a recent newspaper article published on August 4, 2020, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office declared the creation of a new “Hate Crime Awareness and Prevention Unit” as well as an online “Hate Crime Reporting Tool.”  Prosecutor Robertson stated that as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Somerset County, it is necessary to properly inform and guide the general public of the already existing bias crime reporting methods previously established by the New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office.  In accordance with New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Guidelines, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit is the primary law enforcement agency within the County of Somerset that investigates and monitors all bias incidents and hate crimes in coordination with local municipal law enforcement agencies located within its jurisdiction.  Moreover, only the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and the local municipal police departments within Somerset County have the appropriately established procedures, protocols and specific training that is required in order to properly investigate bias related incidents and crimes.   

Prosecutor Robertson stated that pursuant to the Attorney General’s Incident Investigation Standards dated April 5, 2019, the purpose of those standards is to establish uniform procedures for response and investigation of bias incidents due to the very serious nature of these types of investigations.  The County Prosecutor’s Offices throughout the state of New Jersey are tasked with and responsible for making timely notifications to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of potential bias crime incidents. Therefore, here in Somerset County, it is the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit that coordinates all efforts with the reporting and investigation of these cases, which is why it is imperative that the public report these incidents to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and/or your local municipal police department.

Prosecutor Robertson and Chief Fodor strongly encourage any individual who feels they have been victimized by a form of bias intimidation should report the matter to your local law enforcement agency who will work cooperatively with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

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