Prosecutor’s Office Hosts Live Webinar on Bias Crimes and Reporting Procedures During COVID-19

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MORRIS COUNTY —Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and members of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit hosted a live webinar on Monday, May 11, 2020. The webinar, part of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s 21/21 Community Policing Project, sought to update law enforcement, school administrators, and the community at large about bias crimes and how to report suspected incidents. The first live webinar of its kind during this emergency, the event was attended by 130 registered participants.

Morris County Prosecutor Knapp began the event by recognizing the unprecedented times we are living in, and how law enforcement is adjusting to the surge in online communication.  He also addressed the importance of teaching our young people the lessons learned from the genocide perpetrated during World War II and thereafter.

Middlesex County Department of Corrections and Youth Services Chief Investigator and President of the New Jersey State Bias Crimes Officers Association, David D’Amico, gave the keynote presentation. During his presentation, Chief D’Amico explained the difference between a bias crime and a bias incident, and outlined what to expect once a bias incident is reported. Chief D’Amico stressed the importance of community partnerships between community and civic organizations, faith-based stakeholders and state, county and local law enforcement to effectively address bias incidents. As the president of the New Jersey State Bias Crimes Officers Association, he introduced the organization and what it does for New Jersey citizens.  On behalf of that Association, Chief D’Amico presented an award to Prosecutor Knapp in recognition of work done by the MCPO to fight Bias Crime.

Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Supervisor Patrick LaGuerre and Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Samantha DeNegri shared their extensive experience with covering bias crimes and offered tips on how to recognize these issues in school systems. Prior to the emergency declaration, Detective Supervisor LaGuerre and SAP DeNegri held numerous presentations at Morris County middle and high schools, educating students on how to properly report incidents of bullying and exercise good judgment when it comes to what you post online or share with friends.

Participants asked questions of the panelists, especially about how bias incidents are handled by school districts and how to report suspected incidents. Detective Supervisor LaGuerre and SAP DeNegri said the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office has trained members of local police departments and school districts on how to process such reports.

Prosecutor Knapp said “I am deeply honored and humbled by the recognition bestowed today by Association President David D’Amico for the work of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in making Bias Crime enforcement and education a priority.  As David said, we have made educating our youth and others in the County a cornerstone of this administration.”