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Community Outreach Blog

Community Outreach Blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
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-

Community Outreach
Friday, June 2, 2017

Fabiana Pierre-Louis, Veronica Allende, and Jim Otten from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Trenton Branch were pleased to volunteer at the Trenton Police Department’s "Halfway to Halloween" Summer Kick-Off Event on the lovely evening of June 1, 2017. The event included carnival games, music, a petting zoo, bounce houses, and tons of candy!

For their part, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office ran the “Feed the Beast” game in which children tossed small beanbags through the mouth of the cardboard “beasts.” Luckily the kids were better at the game than the USAO staff.

The event had a great turnout, with an estimated 2,500 attendees, including 1,700 children. We're thankful that the Trenton PD hosted the event and invited us to come along. Everyone had a blast!

Children playing the "Feed the Beast" game


The prizes for the Feed the Beast game


Other attractions at the festival


Community Outreach
Monday, January 23, 2017

On Jan. 18, 2017, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and members of his staff met with the military community at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. 

Through enforcement of three civil rights statutes – the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Service Members Civil Relief Act, and Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act – the Department of Justice, including the Offices of the U.S. Attorney, protect the rights of service members, veterans, and their families.

U.S. Attorney Fishman and his staff first met with senior leadership, military lawyers, and civilian lawyers who represent service members

While at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, U.S. Attorney Fishman and his staff first met with senior leadership, military lawyers, and civilian lawyers who represent service members.  After that meeting, U.S. Attorney Fishman addressed service members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. Several attorneys from the U.S. Attorney's Office then participated on a panel to discuss service members' rights, the U.S. Attorney's role in vindicating those rights on their behalf, and legal resources available to service members. 

The U.S. Attorney was joined at these meetings by Tanya Kirwan who is currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Justice Department's Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative (SVI).  SVI coordinates with Justice Department components and federal agencies to build a comprehensive legal support and protection network focused on service members, veterans and their families.

More information about legal protections available to service members can be found at and

The people in the photo from left to right:  AUSA Kelly Horan Florio; Civil Rights Unit Chief, Michael Campion, Major John R. Cayangyang, Chief Military Justice, U.S. Army, Fort Dix; U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman; Lieutenant Colonel Dolly R. Livingston, Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Army, Fort Dix; AUSA Christopher Amore; Tanya Kirwan, Assistant Director, Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative; Captain Tabitha B. White, Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Air Force, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst


Community Outreach
Monday, December 5, 2016

On Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 Assistant U.S. Attorney Jud Welle spoke at the opening ceremony at Hack river Dell, a “hackathon” hosted at river Dell Regional High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Welle, NJ Chief Technology Officer Dave Weinstein, and Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal pose with participants of the event

A “hackathon” is a coding event in which teams collaborate on a project that creates a game, website, or app.  This event was part of Local Hack Day 2016, an event in which schools around the world simultaneously host their own local hackathons. 

The event was organized and supported by Major League Hacking (MLH), the official student hackathon league.  According to the organizers, each year, MLH sponsors over 200 weekend-long invention competitions to inspire innovation and teach computer science skills to more than 65,000 students worldwide.

AUSA Welle met the school’s superintendent and principal, technology teachers, and several student organizers, volunteers, and participants.  He also networked with co-speakers Dave Weinsten (Chief Technology Officer for the State of New Jersey) and Gurbir Grewal (Bergen County Prosecutor).  Finally, he chatted with US Secret Service Special Agent Scott Sarafian, who sent the invitation for this event.  Scott is assigned to the USSS office in NYC and his son, Greg, was the principal student organizer for the event.

Community Outreach
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Chasing the Dragon Event Flyer
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office, Newark FBI, DEA New Jersey, Hudson County Prosecutor’s office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s office, the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, as well as the CarePoint Health Foundation and Barnabas Health, collectively sponsored two events aimed at increasing awareness of the growing heroin epidemic and deterring prospective users.

Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, is a documentary profiling the stories of several people who either abused opiates or had family members become addicts. The film was jointly developed by the FBI and DEA as part of their effort to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse. In addition to examining the cycle of addiction and consequences associated with opioid abuse, the documentary also features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals discussing the effects of the addiction and how this epidemic differs from others in U.S. history.

The documentary is targeted at high school students and young adults and seeks to deter those either thinking of trying drugs or just beginning to use drugs. The FBI and DEA are offering the film to educators at no cost for incorporating it into their curriculum.

As part of Opioid Awareness Week, we participated in two screenings for the film:

•    Saint Peter’s University, Mac Mahon Student Center- September 13, 2016
•    Gateway Building Lecture Hall Ocean County Community College- September 19, 2016

Event Panelists at Ocean County Film Screening

Each screening featured remarks from federal and county law enforcement officials and presentations from health care professionals, as well as panels discussing existing efforts to combat the epidemic, educational tools, and places people can go to get help.

Both events were well-attended by state, local and county law enforcement; doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals; student athletic associations; substance abuse counselors; teachers, administrators and other members of the New Jersey education community.

Featured speakers:
•    Paul Fishman, US Attorney for the District of New Jersey
•    Tim Gallagher, Special Agent in Charge, Newark FBI 
•    Carl Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge, Newark DEA 
•    Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey
•    William J. Holubek MD, MPH, CarePoint Health
•    Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez
•    Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato
•    Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey 
•    Vikram Varma, MD, MBA, FACEP, Barnabas Health

For more information about the video and related training materials, check out

Community Outreach
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

On August 2, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and over a dozen members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey participated in National Night Out across the state. The U.S. Attorney visited and spoke to law and public safety agencies and members of the community at the following events:

  • City of Newark and the Department of Public Safety’s National Night Out event at School Stadium located at 450 Bloomfield Avenue in Newark, NJ.
  • Event hosted by the Teaneck Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office at Milton Votee Park in Teaneck, NJ.
  • Hoboken Police Department and  Stevens Technical School Police Department Annual Night Out Against Crime, located at Church Square Park in Hoboken, NJ.
  • Jersey City Police Department and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop Host National Night Out: America’s Night Out Against Crime, located at Pershing Field Park in Jersey City, NJ.

Other representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office visited NNO events at approximately 13 towns in 8 different counties, including Camden, Carteret, Fairview, Hoboken, Little Egg Harbor, Livingston, South Orange, Monmouth Junction, Morris County, New Providence, North Bergen, Pine Hill, Saddle Brook, and Union County.


USAO NJ Staff Meets with members of Camden County PD


USAO NJ Staff Meets with members of Livingston NJ PD


USAO NJ Staff Meets with members of New Providence NJ PD


U.S. Attorney Fishman & Bergen County Prosecutor Grewal
USAO NJ Staff Meets with members of North Bergen NJ PD


Community Outreach
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Essma speaking at a panel discussion held at Drew  University on Law and Justice in the 21st Century, October 15, 2015Essma is a freshman at New York University’s Stern School of Business. As a New Jersey resident, she is a passionate advocate of empowering young people to engage in solving problems that plague their communities, such as violence, hate and hunger. Essma is actively engaged in building bridges between law enforcement and the community and has worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey in varying capacities, serving most recently as the youth representative on behalf of the office at the Global Youth Summit against Violent Extremism held at the 70th Meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

1. You’re participating in the Exploring Solutions to Counter and Mitigate Violent Extremism Panel- why is this topic so important to you?

I think as a young person, we see violent extremism spreading all around the world, all around our nation, through so many different forms- whether it's white supremacist  groups, whether it's black separatist groups, or ideologist extremists groups. What scares me is that violence, generally is starting to take such a common form, especially to young people- it’s almost normalized. Even if you tune into rap music that’s very popular with lots of young people, it will discuss shootings and guns like they are to be celebrated.

I think before anything, we have to realize this sort of violence is getting normalized, and young people are accepting it- we need to reverse that. Violence is bad: that’s something basic. Many young people realize this and want to go against violence, but feel really un-empowered a lot of the times, and hopeless. We want to do something about what we are seeing but don’t know how.

We need community dialogues that give community members, young and old,  a channel to take it upon themselves to make sure their communities are safe, families are safe, that these violent ideologies aren’t being accepted or celebrated, and are being recognized for what they truly are.

2. What do you see as major obstacles in this field, particularly for leaders in law enforcement and the community?

I think the biggest obstacle right now would be the community’s perception of law enforcement agencies, especially with recent events. It seems to be on very negative terms.

The first step should be to build the bridges between law enforcement agencies and the community. I really think that a lot of times law enforcement agencies only encounter people in tough times. I don’t call the police to have a chat, I call them when there is something is wrong. We should focus on the exposure pre-crisis to make sure that positive relationship is there beforehand.

I think that accessibility is really important, so while we have access to some local police, the average citizen doesn’t necessarily have direct access to lots of other departments that they should have access to. Having that access, that constant flow of the information, would help build really strong relationships, so that if a citizen knows there is something wrong, or a crime is happening, or violence is about to take place, they would feel safe enough, and assured enough, to reach out to whichever proper law enforcement agencies could help.

3. You’ve advocated for the use of social media and youth interaction in this field- could you give us a few words about why they are so important to addressing extremism?

I think social media is really important because it’s limitless, so it reaches out to lots of people on a wide variety of topics, through a really short amount of time, and very effectively. It’s also important because everyone has social media and so it gives young people and old people the voice to be able to respond and channel their concerns properly.

Extremism, lots of times, comes out of people being helpless and who think they are doing the right thing by engaging in extremist ideologies to fix their wrongs. But empowering people through social media and engaging them in that dialogue, in that conversation, by really listening to them and seeing what it is that they want to fix you can really pull them away from those extremist ideologies proactively. Overall, it helps with community development, community engagement, and empowerment.

4. Could you talk to us a little bit about the Smarts of Swag- How did it get started? What do you hope it will achieve?

Smarts of Swag is a series of social media campaigns that primarily target young people who are very active on social media globally and voice their concerns against violence and hate and promote peace with young people. Like I said before, violence is slowly getting normalized and even celebrated with lots of young people so this would reverse that effect and make a bold statement through people who are very much the targets of violent recruitment. It gives these young people that solid foundation that even if they are met with extremist ideologies or extremist people they are able to say “No, I’m very well educated about this, I know what my position is, I’m not hazy on it, and I’m able to actually say something against it.”

The campaigns are based around hashtags that call for different actions. One campaign is #notoviolence where they state they are against violence, whatever violence it is, domestic violence, gang violence, extremist violence, whether it’s overseas or here, and so on. Another campaign is #givingback, which focuses on getting young people, on the day it launches, to just go and give back to their community somehow, whether it’s helping to feed the homeless, running a soup kitchen, or visiting a senior citizen home. You might think “How can volunteering relate back to countering violent extremism?” It’s because it empowers young people to really focus their energy instead on positive channels that are beneficial to society.

To hear more from Essma check out the “Exploring Solutions to Counter and Mitigate Violent Extremism” at the Nov. 12, 2015 conference, where she will be speaking with Joshua Cohen, Regional Director Anti-Defamation League, New Jersey Region; Tony McAleer, Executive Director, Life After Hate; Thomas J. O’Reilly, Director of the Police Institute at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University; and Irfan Saeed, Director, Countering Violent Extremism, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State.

Community Outreach
Monday, November 9, 2015

Title:           Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism: Threats, Challenges & Solutions (“BRAVE”)

Date:           Thursday, November 12, 2015

Time:           8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Location:    Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Recent events highlight the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve to mitigate the threat posed by violent extremism.

Threats within the United States can come from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists. The threat is not constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology. Rather, groups and individuals influenced by personal, religious, political, or other ideological beliefs promote and use violence.

This conference, sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security at Rutgers University, and the Mid-Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, will bring together community leaders and law enforcement partners to present ideas on how best to build resilience to violent extremism in their respective communities and to empower all to prevent violent extremists from inspiring, financing or recruiting individuals or groups in the U.S. to engage in acts of violence or terrorism.

Panels will include: a community awareness briefing on the various forms of violent extremism with case studies explaining how individuals have been radicalized; a presentation on domestic terrorists and “sovereign citizens;” a discussion of potential solutions to mitigate violent extremism; and a discussion of the balance between civil liberties and national security.

To register, email the below form to Michelle Martinez at
RegistrationForm.pdf (312.95 KB)

Also, check out our interview with one of the panelists, Essma Bengabsia.

DRAFT AGENDA (Agenda and speakers are subject to change)

  • Registration
  • Welcoming Remarks
    • Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of N.J.
    • Richard M. Frankel, Special Agent In Charge – FBI – Newark Division
    • Dr. Clifton R. Lacy, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.P, Director – Rutgers University, Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security
  • Featured Speaker: Nicholas J.  Rasmussen, Director National Counterterrorism Center
  • Presentation: Threat Overview by Joshua Cohen, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League – New Jersey Region
  • Break
  • Presentation: “Recent Trends in New Jersey and Law Enforcement Response”
    • Panelists
      • Dennis C. Carletta, Assistant U.S. Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, National Security Unit
      • L. Judson Welle, Assistant U.S. Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, National Security Unit
      • Bradley H. Zartman, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Lunch Break
  • Panel Discussion: Exploring Solutions to Counter and Mitigate Violent Extremism
    • Moderator- Dina Temple-Raston, National Public Radio
    • Panelists
      • Essma Bengabsia, Student New York University, Stern School of Business
      • Joshua Cohen, Regional Director Anti-Defamation League, New Jersey Region
      • Tony McAleer, Executive Director Life After Hate
      • Thomas J. O’Reilly, Director, The Police Institute at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University
      • Irfan Saeed, Director, Countering Violent Extremism, Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) U.S. Department of State
      • Brette Steele, Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Break
  • Panel Discussion: “Law Enforcement and Community Relations - The Balance Between Civil Liberties and National Security
    • Moderator- Anthony Moscato, Chief, National Security, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey
    • Panelists
      • Dawn C. Bruno, Esq. Supervisory Special Agent and Associate Division Counsel, FBI Newark Division
      • Dror Ladin, Esq. Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union, National Security Project
      • Lawrence S. Lustberg, Esq., Chair, Criminal Defense, Gibbons P.C. Newark, New Jersey
Community Outreach
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PJF at SummitOn September 30, 2015, The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey partnered with the N.J. Attorney General's Office to host the "Building Trust: Strategies to Strengthen Police/Community Relationships" summit at the War Memorial in Trenton.

Approximately 300 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, community group members, educators, and members of faith-based organizations attended the day-long summit.

Opening remarks were provided by Acting Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri, New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, and United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who leads the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, and Director Ron Davis, who leads DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), gave keynote addresses.  All of the speakers stressed the importance of building and maintaining relationships with the communities served by law enforcement.

Vanita Gupta at SummitFour panels explored how to improve police/community relations and increase communication:

(1) Investigating Potential Police Misconduct

(2) Constitutional Policing: Identifying and Solving Problems

(3) Community Policing: Increasing Transparency and Improving the Dialogue

(4) Strategies for Improving Community Confidence and Trust in Police

The summit agenda can be found here: summit_building_trust_program.pdf.

Community Outreach
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Eric Olsen explains a map of the watershedEnvironmental law enforcement is about more than just punishing polluters: community service payments taken from prosecutions help fund projects that restore and protect some of New Jersey’s most sensitive ecosystems. As the New Jersey U.S Attorney and team saw firsthand last week, the seeds from three such payments are bearing fruit in Northwestern New Jersey.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, along with members of his staff and guides from The Nature Conservancy, journeyed out on July 2, 2014, to Paulins Kill, the third largest New Jersey river draining into the Delaware River. The Nature Conservancy, a charitable organization that works to protect our lands and waters, is working to restore three miles of degraded floodplains to increase healthy habitat and water quality. The Nature Conservancy is also striving to reconnect the Paulins Kill to the Delaware, working with partners to advance removal of two dams in the lower watershed, which, if successful, will restore access of migratory fish like American Shad to their historic spawning grounds for the first time in more than 100 years.

Paulina Dam on Paulins Kill
The U.S. Attorney and team spent part of the warm summer day exploring miles of the waterway’s winding bends, bridges, assorted wildlife, and surrounding plains. They were even able to observe some of the work being done to fend off erosion, including new tree sprouts, complete with protective tubes to prevent passing deer from turning them into lunch.

Appropriately, The Nature Conservancy’s efforts were sparked with grant money stemming from pollution cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. In 2010, The office, together with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, won cases against three shipping companies that violated federal vessel pollution laws: U.S. v. Clipper Wonsild Tankers Holding A/S et. al., U.S. v. Dalnave Navigation Inc., and U.S. v. Holy House Shipping AB.

Director Barbabra Brummer discusses conservation efforts

The settlements from the cases included $1,531,391 in community service payments, to be managed by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and designated for use in promoting the health and living resources of the coast and oceans of New Jersey. And a portion of these community service payments, a grant of $321,016 to be exact, went to The Nature Conservancy for work in the Delaware River Basin.

In November 2011, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Initiative, a collaborative of The Nature Conservancy, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Natural Lands Trust, used the grant to complete a scientific study that prioritizes conservation projects that would help ensure a healthy Delaware River and Bay—identifying which sites are most critical, and what conservation actions will have the most impact. It included recommendations for preservation, restoration, and management projects to help keep the Delaware a dependable resource for healthy drinking water (17 million people in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania drink Delaware River water every day), flood protection, recreation and wildlife habitat.

The Paulins Kill The smart conservation blueprint, made possible with that original $321,016 in seed money from the settlement, quickly had a snowball effect.  It resonated with other funders, sparking multimillion-dollar support for on-the-ground efforts in the Delaware River Basin from the Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust, the William Penn Foundation and other private donors.  So far, the expanded funding has powered The Nature Conservancy’s conservation efforts in New Jersey’s Paulins Kill, as well as in New York’s Neversink River and Pennsylvania’s Bushkill, all major Delaware River tributaries.

The team from the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office was thrilled to meet with The Nature Conservancy and to see the positive effects of environmental law enforcement extending beyond the courtroom. The office will look forward to seeing continued improvements in the Delaware River Basin for years to come.

Community Outreach


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