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Civil Rights Enforcement

Civil Rights Complaint Hotline: 855- 281-3339
Civil Rights Complaint Form

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is charged with enforcing federal civil rights laws throughout the District of New Jersey.

The Civil Division’s Civil Rights Unit enforces civil federal civil rights statutes, such as the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; laws that protect voting rights, servicemembers’ rights and religious freedom; laws that prohibit patterns and practices of police misconduct, and other federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Department of Justice.

The Criminal and Special Prosecutions Divisions of this office enforce laws pertaining to criminal civil rights matters including hate crimes, human trafficking and police brutality.  In both civil and criminal matters, the U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the United States of America, not any specific individual.

  • To inform this office of a civil rights issue or complaint, click here.
  • To learn more about the right to a public education regardless of immigration status, click here.
  • To learn more about DOJ’s work to coordinate and expand enforcement, outreach, and training efforts on behalf of servicemembers, veterans, and their families, click here.

Upcoming events

FBI Seal

In light of recent events, use of force by law enforcement has received increasing scrutiny by the public, the media, and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. In response, the FBI and DOJ developed this Federal Color of Law Investigations course to educate law enforcement agencies and communities on the FBI’s role in investigating violations under the federal Color of Law statutes.

The FBI and DOJ have jointly presented this course to thousands across the country since 2014 with the aim of dispelling misconceptions and increasing partnership. We have another event taking place soon right here in Newark!

Civil Rights/Color of Law Symposium

When: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Where: Seton Hall University School of Law, 1109 Raymond Blvd, Newark
Audience: Law Enforcement Officers, Interested Community Members, Students & Faculty.


  • Registration 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
  • Introductions 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
  • FBI Civil Rights Color of Law Presentation (with breaks) 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

*Registration is required* To sign up, copy and paste the following URL into your browser:

Space is limited. Registration is first come first serve until seating capacity is full.

Questions? Contact FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Doyle – or FBI Special Agent Vernon Addison-

Arson Awareness Week 2017 to Focus on Preventing Arson at Houses of Worship

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration on this year’s Arson Awareness Week, May 7-13, with a focus on Preventing Arson at Houses of Worship.

There were an average of 103 arsons of houses of worship per year from 2000 to 2015.  Half of all reported fires at houses of worship turn out to involve arson.

The Department of Justice enforces a number of federal statutes protecting places of worship from attack, including 18 U.S.C. § 247, known as the Church Arson Prevention Act, which was passed in the 1990s in response to a sharp increase in church arsons.  That law makes it a federal crime to target religious property because of the religion or race of the congregation.  In February of this year, the Department indicted an Idaho man under § 247 alleging that he set fire to a Catholic Church in Bonner’s Ferry in April 2016.  In 2013, an Indiana man was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for setting a fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

2017 Arson Awareness Week Poster
FEMA and the Department of Justice have produced a number of materials to help congregations, community organizations and local law enforcement and fire safety officials to increase arson awareness and hold events highlighting proactive steps that can be taken to try to reduce house of worship arson.  These materials are available at the Arson Awareness Week homepage,

2017 Arson Awareness Week — Arson Prevention Activities for Houses of Worship

Houses of worship are particularly vulnerable to fire damage because they’re often in rural areas and unoccupied for long periods of time.

Just as it is impossible to prevent all crime, so is the case with arson. Therefore, arson prevention at houses of worship is all about creating an environment where you reduce the chances that your worship center is targeted, and in the event an arson takes place, the potential for damage and injury is minimized. The umbrella of arson prevention strategies include: fire prevention, fire safety, and crime prevention. You can involve your congregation in activities focusing on these distinct concerns.

Schedule a weekend day to offer any or all of the following activities, including: Congregation Fire Safety Day, House of Worship Fire Safety Day, Crime Prevention Day, and/or Clean-Up Day.

Congregation Fire Safety Day

Engage your local fire department. Fire departments routinely provide fire safety training to schools, senior centers and other high-risk audiences. Fire departments would be pleased to provide similar training to a house of worship.

Depending on the local fire codes, the fire department personnel will address the presence, location and number of smoke alarms in the building. They will encourage you to test the smoke alarms every month, along with checking the batteries. The fire department will encourage the use of 10-year batteries which can’t be removed from your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Houses of worship are comprised of more than just a single devotion area. There are often places for youth education, small meetings and study, a kitchen and common area for meals, along with a library and other rooms. There should be two ways out of every room, no matter how big or small. A specific fire escape plan needs to be developed and visibly posted. If a fire occurs, the congregation should know to get out, stay out and call for help — never go back inside for anything or anyone.

If your building doesn’t have an automatic fire sprinkler system, think about installing one. The combination of working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from fire by more than 82 percent. The most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure for both life and property is the installation and maintenance of fire sprinklers.

House of Worship Fire Safety Day

Fire departments also provide home safety visits and would be glad to tailor an inspection to a house of worship. During a house of worship safety visit, the fire service personnel will identify and alleviate potential risks to reduce hazards in and around the house of worship. These safety visits are a proven way to reduce fire injuries and deaths. Some of the potential risks include:

  • Ensuring fire extinguishers are available on every level of the building and near areas where fires are more likely to occur, such as the kitchen, garage and grill. Make sure the leaders receive training how to use the extinguisher.
  • Checking if candles often play an important role in services. Make sure candle placement is away from curtains and other furniture or products where items can easily catch fire. Educate the leaders about candle safety and alternatives to candles, such as flameless candles.
  • Checking used outlets to ensure they are not being overloaded and checking cords for frays.
  • Making sure child locks are installed on all cabinets used to store dangerous items, such as poisons, cleaners, matches and lighters.
  • Inspecting deadbolt locks. Can they be unlocked from the inside without a key? Can a child or member with disabilities work the locks and get out in the event of a fire or other emergency?
  • Asking if the church has alert devices for people who are hard of hearing.

Crime Prevention Day

Contact your local police department, and ask them to come out and identify security weaknesses. The police department will assist in recognizing security flaws and will offer solutions to reduce your vulnerability to an arsonist or burglar.

Clean-Up Day

Many of the vulnerabilities, hazards and safety concerns identified during fire and crime safety activities can be resolved during a clean-up day at your house of worship. In addition to making Jack a dull boy, all work and no play makes for a tedious day. Have congregation members provide food and drinks to volunteers participating in clean-up activities. Sprucing up the grounds of your house of worship will instill pride among the congregation. Specific tasks include: trimming trees and shrubbery, cleaning windows, and removing all possible sources of ignition, such as flammable liquids, combustible materials and trash.



Updated October 31, 2017

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