Sheriff increases police presence at Essex County synagogues
Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News
ON TUESDAY NIGHT, a police cruiser circled the parking lot of B’nai Shalom in West Orange. In the wake of the Oct. 27 shooting at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura ordered that the officers of his department have “increased vigilance” at and around all the county’s synagogues and other houses of worship.
The bomb squad and K-9 unit are also on “full stand-by” should their assistance be needed.
“This act of senseless violence has prompted us to increase these patrol operations,” Fontoura said in a prepared statement. “We want all residents of Essex County to feel safe and secure as they attend the religious services of their choice.”
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Lynch said the level of action that will be taken at any given location will depend on any ongoing occurrences. On a random weeknight, police will drive by a house of worship, go around the block a few times, and flash the police lights so they can be seen. If there’s something going on in the building, police will spend time talking to congregants and check in. If there’s a major event, they will be on location with all their gear. Additionally, Lynch said, members of the bomb squad will be available 24 hours a day.
Lynch could not say for how long this extra security would be in place.