New Jersey Law Enshrines Security Grants for Faith-Based Organizations

The state made permanent a nonprofit security grant program that provides security funding to faith-based nonprofits and houses of worship.

TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (A-1663/S-1842) establishing the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) following a three-year pilot program managed by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which expired in 2020.

“With hate crimes on the rise, we must do everything that we can to protect vulnerable communities from threats to safety,” the governor states a press release. “This legislation provides funding that will allow nonprofits that are at high risk of being targeted to take measures to protect themselves.”

The announcement came days after the Jan. 15 hostage crisis at Congregations Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, though it had been in the works for months.

The NSGP provides funding to 501(c)(3) organizations at high risk of terrorist attacks and located within designated areas of New Jersey. Eligible nonprofit organizations must utilize funding for the purchase and installation of security equipment on property owned or leased by the nonprofit organization.

Equipment is limited to select items contained within categories 14 and 15 on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Authorized Equipment List, which includes video surveillance, card access readers, blast film, lighting, fencing, bollards, among other products.

Applicants may also pursue investments in the areas of training, exercise and planning that grow preparedness measures. The program also allows the hiring of security personnel with certain restrictions and requirements.

Under the permanent funding, grants of up to $50,000 will be available for nonprofit organizations “at greatest risk of attack.” The money can be used for the purchase of necessary equipment, with up to $10,000 for security personnel.

Like the pilot program, it will be coordinated through the state’s office of homeland security and preparedness, which is being directed to request $2 million annually to fund the program.

Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, states in a press release: “We have worked tirelessly with our partners in the legislature and nonprofit community to ensure the safety and security of our state’s nonprofit and religious institutions. Particularly in light of recent anti-Semitic incidents locally and around the country, it is essential to continue this important work with our partners to protect all of our citizens from acts of violence and hate. Making the Nonprofit Security Grant Program permanent goes a long way towards this goal.”

Nearly 300 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in New Jersey in 2020, the most recent data available. According to the Anti-Defamation League, nearly two-thirds of those incidents were described as harassment; vandalism made up the remaining third. Assaults comprised a minor part of the final figures.

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