Bias Attacks Prompt Added Security in Teaneck
Police increase already regular checks of local religious centers, offer safety tips.
Teaneck police have increased checks of local religious sites and reached out to synagogue officials as part of a proactive response to a string of hate crimes across Bergen County, the Police Department said.
The incidents began last month when anti-Semitic graffiti was found in Maywood and Hackensack. The crimes turned violent last Wednesday when Molotov cocktails were thrown into a Rabbi's home in Rutherford.
On Friday, a parks worker discovered swastikas at a park in Fair Lawn. A Fair Lawn investigator told Patch there was no evidence that case was linked to the other attacks, but may be connected to other anti-Semitic graffiti found over the past few weeks. There have been no recent similar incidents in Teaneck, police have said.
Authorities urged anyone with information to call the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office at 201-226-5651. The Anti-Defamation League is also offering a reward in the investigation.
Teaneck Police Sgt. Scott Tesser, supervisor of the Community Policing Squad, issued the following message about the attacks:
It is always a routine responsibility within the Teaneck Police Department to be vigilant around all of the township’s houses of worship. Even prior to the recent attacks on Bergen County synagogues, patrol officers on all shifts have always checked every house of worship on their posts as part of their assigned daily duties. While checking these houses of worship, the officers look for signs of vandalism and/or forced entry, open windows and doors, and for suspicious people, vehicles, and packages.
The Teaneck Police Department has responded proactively to the recent attacks on these Bergen County synagogues by increasing our already extensive patrols of the township synagogues. In addition to the Patrol Division increasing the rate of these checks, the Investigations Division has also been assigned to check our synagogues.
Following the attacks, the Teaneck Police Department’s Community Policing Squad responded to every synagogue in the township where we met with the Rabbis and/or Administrators of those synagogues. We compiled updated emergency contact lists for all synagogues and discussed security strategies and up-coming security site surveys by the Community Policing Squad’s Crime Prevention Officers.
I would like to encourage the congregants at the synagogues to actively assist in ensuring the safety around the synagogues. Congregants should be watchful, ready, and willing to report suspicious activity. These congregants should be familiar with the synagogues and they should report anything that is missing, out of place, or that does not belong.
There are many things that the synagogues may consider with regards to safeguarding their institutions. They may want to consider increasing their key control policies and possibly replacing or re-keying locks to control access to the buildings. The entrances to the buildings should be limited and monitored. Even if your institution can not afford advanced security equipment, such as cameras, intercoms, and door releases, you can still monitor your entrances with ushers, volunteers, or staff. You should always call 9-1-1 in an emergency, but you should also have this department’s non-emergency phone number saved in your telephones. That number is 201-837-2600. Another good use of your cellular telephone is its camera feature. If you observe a suspicious person or vehicle, you may want to take a picture (when it is safe to do so) of that person or vehicle, after you have called the police to report it.
One of the easiest, most important, but often overlooked security responsibilities are ensuring that the security devices your institution has are turned on and are functioning. Make sure that doors and windows are locked, outdoor lighting is working and turned on, and that windows and fence lines are clear of bushes.
Every American has the absolute right to practice their religion freely without fear of attack and the Teaneck Police Department is dedicated to the cause of ensuring that right. We will continue to work with the community and the houses of worship in this town to thwart any such attack within our borders.
The police department is available for security consultations to any religious organization.
If anyone has questions or concerns they can reach me at 201-837-2600 ext. 2288. Thank you and stay safe.
Scott M. Tesser
Sergeant of Police
Community Policing Squad – Supervisor
Teaneck Police Department