Category: State of NJ

New Jersey Department of Education Launches Resources to Help Schools Teach Climate Change Across K-12 Classrooms

October 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Department of Education announced that it has made available extensive online resources that school districts and educators can use to incorporate climate change education across K-12 classrooms beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. 

In June of 2020, First Lady Tammy Murphy announced that the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted her initiative to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to incorporate climate change across its revised state K-12 learning standards. The NJDOE establishes the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS), which determine what schools are required to teach in nine content areas across each grade level. With the adoption of the 2020 NJSLS, climate change education will be incorporated across seven content areas—21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages. The two remaining content areas, mathematics and English language arts, have not yet been eligible for review under the Murphy Administration given the five-year review cycle. The resources announced today will help educators meet the new climate change requirements so they can prepare students to understand how and why climate change occurs, the impact it has on our local and global communities, and to respond to climate change with informed and sustainable solutions. 

“For a long time, many viewed climate change as an abstract problem, but here in New Jersey, we are already experiencing its devastating effects, including extreme flooding from recent storms,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “This generation of students will feel the impact of climate change more than any other, and beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, our students will be the first and only in the nation to have climate change education incorporated at every grade level. By providing these resources to our educators, we are in turn equipping the leaders of tomorrow with the critical tools they will need to face the real-life challenges of climate change.”

“New Jersey’s groundbreaking academic standards, and the accompanying resources that we are releasing today, will give educators, parents, and other stakeholders greater tools and information on the impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Students throughout New Jersey will enhance their understanding of how climate change poses a threat to our environment, and actions necessary to mitigate the threat.”

The NJDOE’s Climate Change webpage provides resources such as: 

  • Instructional resources – such as webinars, instructional strategies, literature, and standards-based lessons – by grade level and by subject;
  • Links, videos, highlights and news stories to innovative lessons on climate change occurring in New Jersey schools;
  • Activities and projects for students in and out of the classroom;
  • Opportunities for students to take part in community engagement;
  • A link to the First Lady’s climate change webpage; and
  • A portal for educators and other stakeholders to share their stories, feedback and resources.

Educators and other members of the public can obtain more information the NJDOE’s Climate Change Education Resources website.


Cumberland County Man, 63 Charged With Manufacturing An Explosive Device And Possession Of Bombs And Materials

October 7, 2021

NEWARK, N.J. – A Cumberland County, New Jersey, man will make his initial appearance today on charges related to his explosive devices and the materials used to manufacture them, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Thomas Petronglo, 63, of Vineland, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with one count each of unlawful possession of a destructive device, unlawful making of a destructive device, and unlawful storage of explosive materials. He is scheduled to appear by videoconference later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen.

According to documents filed in this case:

On March 12, 2021, Petronglo was found in possession of one destructive device, a 5 ¾-inch diameter metal can, containing a quantity of an explosive mixture of potassium perchlorate and aluminum, with a fuse sticking out of the device.

Petronglo also possessed multiple intact improvised explosive devices and explosive materials, including:

• One suspected improvised explosive device containing a plastic cylinder, suspected explosive mixture inside the plastic cylinder, with cardboard tubing and a fuse sticking out of the device;
• One suspected improvised explosive device containing a plastic cylinder, M class device inside the plastic cylinder, with suspected explosive mixture wrapped in black electrical tape with a fuse sticking out of the device;
• One suspected improvised explosive device, containing a black plastic cylinder wrapped in black electrical tape, inside the cylinder is a suspected explosive mixture, with a fuse sticking out of the device;
• One suspected improvised explosive device, containing cardboard tubing with twine wrapped around the cardboard tubing and the wrapped in black electrical tape, with a suspected explosive mixture inside the cardboard tubing and a fuse sticking out of the device;
• Two M class devices – one 3-inch M class device and one 2-inch M class, both suspected devices in red cardboard tubes with wooden plug at the end of the devices, inside the cardboard tubing is a suspected explosive mixture with a fuse sticking out of the device;
• Numerous materials used to manufacture destructive devices, including precursor chemicals, hobby fuse, time fuse, the explosive making materials such as the cardboard tubing, and black plastic cylinders.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews in Newark; the Vineland Police Department, under the direction of Chief Pedro Casiano; the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, and the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The counts of possession of a destructive device and making of an explosive device each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of unlawful storage of explosives carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean C. Sovolos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Acting AG Bruck, Acting U.S. Attorney Honig Launch Statewide Task Force to Enhance Gun Violence Investigations and Prosecutions

To Implement Task Force, Acting AG Bruck Issues First Law Enforcement Directive During His Tenure, Creating Statewide Intelligence Sharing Network

October 5, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Rachael A. Honig today announced the creation of a statewide task force to enhance gun violence investigations and prosecutions. To implement the task force, Acting Attorney General Bruck issued the first Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive of his tenure – AG Directive 2021-10 – creating a statewide gun violence intelligence sharing network in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.

The initiative is a joint effort between the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the state’s 21 County Prosecutors, New Jersey State Police, and federal, state, and local law enforcement.

AG Directive 2021-10 establishes a statewide “Gun Violence Reduction Task Force” to lead reactive and proactive investigations and prosecute violent crimes that impact the lives and safety of residents, as well as a statewide intelligence network that will coordinate with the task force to implement mechanisms for immediate information sharing across agencies.

“Since becoming Acting Attorney General two months ago, I have met with dozens of law enforcement leaders across New Jersey who consistently stressed the need for greater coordination with county, state, and federal prosecutors to reduce gun violence,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We all recognize that criminal prosecution alone will not end gun violence in New Jersey, but when prosecution is necessary, we must do so as effectively and efficiently as possible. The task force we are launching today demonstrates our commitment to working across all levels of government to keep the residents of New Jersey safe.”

“Our experience has shown that close cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners is the most effective way to combat violent crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Rachael Honig.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is proud to participate in extending the Violent Crime Initiative model that it pioneered in New Jersey cities like Newark, Jersey City, and Camden to other municipalities statewide. We are grateful to Acting Attorney General Bruck and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for their shared commitment to protecting the safety of all New Jersey residents and the communities in which they live.” 

“Our challenge is not just removing illegal firearms from our streets, but determining the source in order to prevent the senseless acts of violence that are often associated with these firearms. With the creation of this task force, we will be able to address these problems through precision policing, intelligence gathering and gaining access to information across a wide range of resources,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners across the state in order combat gun violence and make our communities safer.”

“Intelligence sharing and collaboration are the key components to stopping gun violence in our communities,” said Director Lyndsay Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through his Directive, Acting Attorney General Bruck has created a mechanism by which law enforcement across the state will work together to effectively reduce violence and make our state a safe and just for all residents.”

“Sharing information and intelligence by local, county, state, and federal agencies is key in effectively preventing and prosecuting the gun violence that disrupts communities across New Jersey,” said Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, President of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey. “This newly formed Gun Violence Task Force and statewide gun violence intelligence sharing network will expedite and bolster the work of law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey’s 21 counties. We applaud Acting Attorney General Bruck and Acting U.S. Attorney Honig for their dedication to this issue and for implementing this partnership to reduce gun violence and make all of New Jersey’s communities safer.”

“This is an opportunity to expand beyond traditional policing strategies to reduce gun-related crimes and homicides in our neighborhoods and communities,” said Chief John Zebrowski, President of New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. “The task-force represents a significant interdisciplinary commitment towards prevention and intervention of gun-related violence through an enhanced network of intelligence information sharing.”

The Gun Violence Reduction (GVR) Task Force will be organized into three regional teams – North, Central, and South – and will consist of federal, state, and county prosecutors working together to identify cases for investigation and prosecution. The regional teams will be supported by officers of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and will be physically based in the “Real-Time Crime Centers” that NJSP recently established in locations across the state.

Under AG Directive 2021-10, each of New Jersey’s more than 500 state, county, and local law enforcement agencies are required to designate an individual to serve as their liaison to the GVR Task Force, and will be responsible for serving as a single point of contact within their agency for coordinating requests for information and investigative assistance to and from the GVR Task Force. In addition, under AG Directive 2021-10, each of the 21 County Prosecutors are required to identify an Assistant Prosecutor who is responsible for supporting the GVR Task Force for cases arising in their jurisdiction.

The GVR Task Force model is based on the premise that a majority of gun violence incidents can be traced to a small group of individuals concentrated in specific areas – but that investigations into gun violence can span the entire state. As AG Directive 2021-10 notes, “A firearm trafficked into New Jersey through Salem County might wind up as the murder weapon in a Paterson homicide; a vehicle stolen in Ocean County might be used as the getaway car in a Trenton shooting. By improving information-sharing across agencies, we improve our ability to solve crimes and hold wrongdoers accountable throughout the Garden State.”

In recent months, federal, state, and county prosecutors have been collaborating on efforts to reduce gun violence across New Jersey. Over the past summer, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have worked together to target the use of illegal firearm use, resulting in the following cases:

[https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/agguide/images/2021-GUNSTAT-Summer-Report.png]

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy and Acting AG Bruck are leading a comprehensive, statewide effort to reduce gun deaths, which pairs the latest evidence-based policing strategies with innovative, community-based prevention programs. The three-pronged approach to tackling this public health crisis includes addressing the root causes of violence; keeping guns away from those most likely to harm others; and taking swift action against those who break the law.  These efforts have included:

  • Bringing criminal charges against those who illegally traffic untraceable “ghost guns” into New Jersey. For example, in September, three men were charged for allegedly purchasing partially assembled firearms in Pennsylvania and then selling them fully assembled in New Jersey, without the serial numbers mandated by state and federal law to allow law enforcement to trace the weapons.
  • Increasing funding for community-based violence intervention programs though the FY2022 budget process. The Governor’s budget proposes an additional $10 million in funding for these initiatives in New Jersey.
  • Within the Department of Law & Public Safety, the New Jersey State Police has built the country’s most comprehensive statewide database on “crime guns,” creating an invaluable tool for criminal investigators seeking to trace illegal firearms to their source.
  • August’s “Guns for Cash” events held in Atlantic City, East Orange, Newark, and two locations in Paterson yielded 941 firearms. Additional gun buyback events will be held simultaneously on Saturday, October 23 in conjunction with Bergen, Camden, Cumberland, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Salem and Somerset counties.

AG Directive 2021-10 can be viewed in full at: https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/agguide/directives/ag-Directive-2021-10_Establishing-Statewide-Gun-Violence-Reduction-Task-Force.pdf


Legislation supported by Smith to forgive more than $8.1 million for Jersey Shore towns in Fourth District passes House, signed into law

September 30, 2021

WASHINGTON – Legislation supported by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to provide more than $8.1 million in Community Disaster Loan (CDL) forgiveness for Jersey Shore towns in the Fourth Congressional District impacted by Superstorm Sandy passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law today as part of a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown.

            “This long-awaited Community Disaster Loan forgiveness is greatly welcomed and much-needed relief for our local towns and communities that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy,” said Rep. Smith, who voted for the measure on the House Floor. “Nearly nine years after Sandy, our towns have finally received the reprieve they both need and deserve—and were originally assured—from these difficult payments.” 

            Mayors from Point Pleasant Beach and Manasquan, two of the towns in Smith’s district slated to receive CDL forgiveness, thanked Smith for his tireless efforts to secure the significant relief that will free up funds for critical municipal projects and other needed local improvements.

            “Point Pleasant Beach is so grateful to have an attentive and hardworking member like Congressman Chris Smith representing us,” said Mayor Paul Kanitra. “He listened to our needs regarding CDL forgiveness, and he and his staff put in countless hours to make this a reality. We expect the effects of this to save the Borough close to $1 million dollars.

            “This is a big deal,” said Manasquan Mayor Ed Donovan. “This represents hundreds of thousands of dollars that we would’ve had to repay, that we can now use for other needed projects and improvements in Manasquan. There is no lack of projects we need funding.”

            In addition to securing relief for New Jersey towns, the legislation will also provide assistance to other eligible towns across the country with outstanding Community Disaster Loans.

            Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the CDL program provides operational funding for local governments to continue basic operations after substantial revenue loss caused by a major disaster, such as Superstorm Sandy, that adversely affects their ability to provide essential municipal services.


At 28.63 Percent, New Jersey’s Pension Fund Far Surpasses any Returns in the Last Two Decades

September 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–At today’s meeting of the State Investment Council, Treasury’s Division of Investment reported that New Jersey’s Pension Fund generated a final, unaudited return of 28.63 percent for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021, far surpassing any annual return on record for the last 20 years, as well as the 7.3 percent statutory assumed rate of return for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021).

The fund also outperformed its benchmark of 26.28 percent by 235 basis points.

“This has been a historic year for New Jersey’s pension fund, both in reaching the milestone of making the first 100 percent actuarially determined contribution in 25 years, and now, with today’s news regarding our returns for the year,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “Taking a look at the 20 year snapshot, this year’s returns dwarfed any annual performance over the last two decades, far surpassing the next highest return, which was 17.97 percent in 2011. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of employees and retirees who depend upon the success and strength of the Pension Fund, I’d like to thank the Division of Investment and the State Investment Council for their hard work, stewardship, and commitment, which helped lead to this highly successful outcome.”  

The FY 2021 return boosted the total unaudited market value of the Pension Fund to an estimated $94.4 billion as of June 30, 2021.  This strong performance, coupled with the State’s record pension payment of $6.9 billion for FY 2022, will further strengthen New Jersey’s Pension Fund.

“We are pleased with the Fiscal Year 2021 returns, both in absolute and relative terms, as well as the broad participation and contributions across asset classes,” said Shoaib Khan, Acting Director of the Division of Investment. “The fund was well positioned to benefit from a constructive market environment, albeit a volatile one. The guidance, contributions, and effort by the State Investment Council and division staff were invaluable in making these returns possible.”

Most asset classes produced exceptionally strong contributions, led by private equity, public equity, real assets, private credit, and real estate.

The Division of Investment noted that the numbers reported today are unaudited and there is the possibility of final audit adjustments.


3 Alarm Fire Reported At Big Snow at American Dream Mall

September 25, 2021

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Multiple fire departments responded to Big Snow at American Dream Mall for a roof fire around 4:15 a.m. Upon arrival there was a reported “working fire” on the roof of Big Snow the indoor ski slope. Additional aid was called to the scene including Carlstadt, Secaucus, Wallington, Mahwah, Woodridge, Moonachie and many others. Fire crews charged a stand pipe system and charged hand lines to get water on the fire.

The fire went to three alarms before the main body of fire was knocked down just after 6:00 a.m. Fire crews are still on scene reporting that they have smoldering roof material on fire.

According to New Jersey State Police Sgt. Alejandro Goez, “The fire at the American Dream was reported at 4:15 a.m. inside the Big Snow ski slope. The fire was contained to the top of the ski slope and several area fire departments responded to extinguish the fire. The building was unoccupied at the time and there are no injuries reported. Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire has been deemed nonsuspicious at this time.”

Hugh Reynolds, a Big SNOW Representative said, “We can confirm that there was a fire at Big SNOW overnight. Thankfully there were no injuries as the incident occurred outside of our normal hours of operation. We are tremendously thankful for the quick response and efforts of the local fire departments in working to contain this fire.  As such, Big SNOW will be closed today while we assess the damage. We will release more details soon.”

This is still a developing story, please check back for further updates. MidJersey.News has reached out to Big Snow, American Dream Mall and NJ Sports and Exposition Authority for additional information.


From the Big Snow website:

Temporarily Closed

Please Note: We will be closed today, September 25. Any pre-purchased guests will be contacted directly and refunded.


Please note that Big SNOW will be closed today, Saturday September 25th.  We apologize for this inconvenience and any disappointment this unexpected closure may cause for those guests who were planning to visit today.  If you had a pre-purchased reservation, we will be refunding your order. We look forward to welcoming you back to Big SNOW soon. Please contact info@bigsnowad.com with any additional questions.







Trenton And Hightstown Men Among 11 Indicted In Investigation That Uncovered Alleged “Hit Squad” Of Inmates Who Assaulted Other Inmates

September 22, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of an alleged local leader of the Latin Kings street gang and 10 current and former inmates under his command who allegedly formed a “hit squad” within the prison system to commit assaults on behalf of the gang.

Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside, N.J., an alleged leader of the Elizabeth, N.J., chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) street gang, was initially charged in April 2021 along with eight other alleged members of ALKQN who allegedly conspired to carry out assaults on behalf of the gang in the state prison system. They were charged at that time with a brutal attack on an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and a planned assault on another inmate in Northern State Prison in Newark that was prevented by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC).

The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) obtained a state grand jury indictment on Tuesday, Sept. 14, charging defendants with four more vicious assaults in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. The indictment charges the nine original defendants plus two additional alleged ALKQN gang members. The indictment was sealed pending the arrest of defendant Maurice Diaz Young, 35, of Trenton, N.J., who was arrested today.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by members of the DOC Special Investigations Division (SID) and OPIA Corruption Central Squad. The investigation revealed that Blake and inmate Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J., allegedly discussed going to the homes of DOC-SID investigators leading this investigation to commit violence against them.

“We will not tolerate gang-related violence in our state prisons,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “This indictment reaffirms our commitment to ensuring the safety of both inmates and correctional officers behind the prison walls. I am especially grateful to our Office of Public Integrity & Accountability and DOC’s Special Investigations Division for their partnership on this investigation.”

“We will continue to work with the Department of Corrections to neutralize the dangerous and corrosive influence of gangs in our prisons and protect the people who are held in state custody,” said OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “We will not allow gang leaders to orchestrate violence between inmates and undermine the security of our prison system.”

“Central to our mission is a commitment to operate safe and humane facilities,” said New Jersey Department of Corrections Acting Commissioner Victoria Kuhn, Esq. “We have zero tolerance for those that compromise the integrity of our efforts and applaud the work of the NJDOC’s Special Investigations Division and the OPIA in bringing these individuals to justice.”

The indictment is posted online at: Blake et al Indictment

The following 11 men are charged with second-degree conspiracy, and nine of them—Blake, Diaz Young, Lago, Garcia, Chludzinski, Washington, Reyes, Zarate, and Cardona—are charged with first-degree gang criminality. Blake is also charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.

  1. Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside N.J.
  2. Eduardo Lago, aka “King Bay Bay,” 28, of Newark, N.J.
  3. Roberto Garcia, aka “Taz,” 25, of Carteret, N.J.
  4. William Figueroa, aka “King Stitch,” 27, of Hightstown, N.J.
  5. Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J.
  6. Kevin Washington, aka “King Jafi,” 32, of Atlantic City, N.J.
  7. Andy Reyes, aka “Chango,” 25, of Somerset, N.J.
  8. James Zarate, aka “King Samurai,” 33, of Randolph, N.J.
  9. Larry Cardona, aka “King Legend,” 28, of Elizabeth, N.J.
  10. Maurice Diaz Young, aka “King Onyx,” 35, of Trenton, N.J.
  11. Juan Colon, 53, of Trenton, N.J.

The indictment alleges the following acts of violence and attempted acts of violence against inmates in the state prison system:

  • It is alleged that at Blake’s direction—and with Figueroa, Reyes and Diaz Young participating in planning the assault—Garcia and Lago assaulted an inmate in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on Sept. 28, 2020, punching and kicking him in the head, and causing him to suffer respiratory failure and a traumatic brain injury.
  • Between December 2020 and April 2021, Blake allegedly conspired with and directed Chludzinski, Reyes, Washington, Zarate, and Cardona in planning an assault on an inmate at Northern State Prison in Newark. DOC-SID investigators learned of the alleged plot and placed the targeted inmate in protective custody to prevent the attempted assault.
  • It is alleged that on Oct. 18, 2019, Chludzinski attacked an inmate with a makeshift weapon known as a “shank” in a shower facility in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, causing the victim to suffer multiple puncture wounds.
  • In April 2020, Reyes, Garcia, and a member of a different street gang identified in the indictment as “Individual #1” allegedly planned that Garcia would attack an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on behalf of Individual #1, in exchange for which Individual #1 would attack an inmate who was targeted by Reyes and Garcia. On April 5, 2020, Individual #1 allegedly carried out his attack in the prison yard, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head, causing him to be hospitalized with head trauma. The next day, April 6, 2020, Garcia allegedly attacked the second victim in the prison yard, punching and kicking him in the head and upper body, resulting in bodily injury.
  • It is alleged that Zarate and Cardona attacked an inmate on April 21, 2021 in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head and body, resulting in significant bodily injury.

The indictment charges Diaz Young and Colon with the second-degree crime of solicitation or recruitment to join a criminal street gang for allegedly soliciting an inmate to join ALKQN and participate in criminal conduct on behalf of the gang in November and December 2020.

Blake and Chludzinski are charged with second-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution, third-degree terroristic threats, and fourth-degree obstruction for the alleged threats of violence against DOC-SID members investigating this case. Cardona, Chludzinski, Reyes, and Zarate are charged with possessing shanks, and Cardona is charged with possessing a cell phone in prison.

When Blake was arrested on April 22, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant at his home, seizing a .45-caliber pistol, a .357-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, a 9mm pistol, an illegal large-capacity magazine, additional bullets, over one-half pound of methamphetamine, and two digital scales. For those items, he is charged with second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, second-degree possession of a weapon during commission of a drug offense, first-degree possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and other drug and weapons offenses.

Deputy Attorneys General Colin J. Keiffer and Travis Miscia are prosecuting the case and presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. They were assisted by Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben and other members of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.

Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked all of the investigators and detectives who conducted the investigation for the DOC Special Investigations Division and the OPIA Corruption Central Squad. For security reasons, they are not being named individually. He also thanked the New Jersey State Police TEAMS North Unit, Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crimes Unit, Union County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Division, and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit for their assistance in the investigation.

The first-degree charges of gang criminality carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison. The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The sentences for gang criminality and promoting organized street crime must be served consecutively to the sentence for any underlying offense. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Defense Attorneys

For Blake: Thomas R. Ashley, Esq., Newark, N.J.

For Garcia: Robin Kay Lord, Esq., Trenton, N.J.

For Figueroa: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Matthew Mordas, Mercer County.

For Chludzinski: Peter V. Abatemarco, Esq., Lambertville, N.J.

For Washington: Tina M. Frost, Esq., West Windsor, N.J.

For Cardona: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Olivia J. Moorhead, Mercer County.

For Other Defendants: Undetermined.


FIFA Delegation Tours MetLife Stadium and Other Venues in Advance of 2026 FIFA World Cup Site Selection

Joint Bid with New Jersey and New York Among 17 U.S. cities being considered

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted officials from FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, who concluded their visit today after touring MetLife Stadium and other area venues as they continue the site selection process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The delegation was led by FIFA Vice-President and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani and Colin Smith, FIFA Chief Tournaments and Events Officer, and included FIFA experts across multiple fields, including venue management, stadium and city infrastructure, team facilities, commercial, bidding, and legal. Representatives from the U.S. Soccer Federation, along with representatives from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation, also joined the delegation.

New Jersey and New York City presented a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup with the goal of once again bringing one of the greatest sporting events in the world to East Rutherford.

“This is an immensely exciting opportunity to showcase our great state to an international audience,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The FIFA World Cup is among the premier sporting events in the world and MetLife Stadium is among the country’s best, so we’re excited for the chance to bring the two together.”

“New York City and New Jersey have all the assets we need to host an unforgettable World Cup: world-class, accessible facilities, a truly global population of fans, and the best tourist destinations on the globe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.  “I’m proud to welcome FIFA to the region and I look forward to many more productive conversations in the coming months,”

In addition to touring MetLife Stadium, members of the delegation visited several potential FIFA Fan Fest sites around the region, including Liberty State Park and New York City’s Central Park. Six additional sites would be used as training facilities, including Rutgers University, the Pingry School, Kean University, Red Bull Arena and Training Facility, and the New York City Football Club Training Facility.

The NY/NJ Host City Bid Committee also launched a campaign entitled “Welcome, World” highlighting the region’s passion for the sport and desire to be an official 2026 FIFA World Cup Host City.  The welcome video can be found here.

“This morning we received a great presentation from the Governor, the Deputy Mayor and the whole range of officials who are involved in the candidate city bid,” said Colin Smith, Chief Tournaments and Events Officer for FIFA. “It was a very well structured, very professional presentation and we received a lot of good information. This region is used to hosting major event and to see the collaboration between all parties is obviously very important to us.”

“We are excited to be here. We have been very well received by the Governor, the Mayor, and the whole team,” said FIFA Vice-President and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani. “Their passion for their game, and their passion to bring the World Cup to New York and New Jersey comes through very clearly. We’ll continue to work with them and we’re shooting for having a decision in the first quarter of next year.” 

“New Jersey’s more than 30 years of experience hosting one-of-a-kind events, including seven games for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a papal mass by Pope John Paul II, the Super Bowl, and two WrestleManias, are proof that the New Jersey Meadowlands is well-prepared to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” said New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President and CEO, Vincent Prieto.

“As the ultimate sports capital and the world’s most welcoming destination, New York City is well-positioned to host the FIFA 2026 World Cup at MetLife Stadium, a premier venue in the greater New York area,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “We are grateful to the FIFA delegation for considering New York City and New Jersey as a future destination for this renowned event.”

“New Jersey has the experience, commitment, and state-of-the-art facilities needed to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Our state has a rich history with soccer,” said ChooseNJ CEO, Jose Lozano. “Over the years, MetLife Stadium has successfully hosted record-setting international soccer matches thanks to our strategic location, unparalleled transportation access, and world-class amenities. New Jersey and New York are ready and excited to host this extraordinary event.”

“The New Jersey Meadowlands has played host to the world’s largest and most prestigious events,” said Jim Kirkos, President and CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber. “We are all thankful to FIFA for considering us and we are anxious to provide a “NJ Warm Welcome” to the many fans from around the world who will come to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. We know how to do BIG…and experience matters.”

The U.S last hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994, and Giants Stadium played host to seven games, including a quarterfinal and semifinal match.

“MetLife Stadium would be honored to host matches in 2026. Our world-class stadium is the perfect showcase for the greatest players and the biggest global sporting event taking place in New Jersey,” said MetLife Stadium President and CEO Ron VanDeVeen

MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. is the home of the NFL New York Giants and New York Jets.  The stadium has a capacity exceeding 82,000, making it one of the largest venues currently under consideration by FIFA. 

Other U.S. cities in the running to host matches are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In addition to the U.S. cities, Canada is featuring Edmonton and Toronto as host cities and in Mexico, they are featuring Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first ever jointly hosted by three nations. The final decision is due early next year.



$50,000 Powerball Ticket Sold In Hamilton Township

The ticket was sold at Whitehorse Mercerville Exxon, 1824 Whitehorse Mercerville Rd., Hamilton in Mercer County.

September 16, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–One New Jersey Lottery ticket matched four of the five white balls and the Powerball drawn for the Wednesday, September 15, drawing winning the $50,000 third-tier prize. The ticket was sold at Whitehorse Mercerville Exxon, 1824 Whitehorse Mercerville Rd., Hamilton in Mercer County.

The winning numbers for the Wednesday, September 15, drawing were: 01, 04, 18, 46, and 62. The Red Power Ball number was 25. The Power Play was 3X. 35,472 New Jersey players took home an estimated $205,373 in prizes ranging from $4 to $300. The Powerball jackpot rolled to $457,000,000 for the Saturday, September 18, drawing.

Double Play Results

The Double Play drawing is an additional drawing for players who opted-in to the Double Play feature on their tickets. The Double Play drawing results for the Wednesday, September 15, drawing were: 05, 34, 36, 38, and 57. The red Double Play Power Ball number was 07.


FAA Drone Safety Awareness Week Starts Today

September 13, 2021

Safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System is a key priority for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and our third-annual Drone Safety Awareness Week helps ensure drone operators understand that they are pilots who must fly safely.

As part of the agency’s education efforts, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson will participate in an Instagram Live event with Keith Rosentreter, owner of Alien Drones YouTube Channel, Eno Umoh, Co-Founder Global Air Drone Academy, and Dawn Zoldi, president of UAS Colorado. They will discuss The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), how to properly register and mark your drone, the importance of joining a community of drone operators, and how drones are used in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to inspire young people. The event will take place on Wednesday from 1:00-1:30 p.m. EDT.

The week also will feature drone pilots, recreational flyers, and experts discussing their commitment to safety, and sharing tips and information. Several organizations and FAA Safety Team (FAAST) volunteers are hosting virtual events to engage and educate the public about drone safety. If you are new to the drone community, this is a great opportunity to understand how to fly safely.

Each day of the week is dedicated to a specific educational theme:

  • Monday: Safe Flyers Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST)
  • Tuesday: Register and Mark Your Drone
  • Wednesday: Become a Part of a Flying Community
  • Thursday: New Rules – Remote Identification and Operations Over People
  • Friday:  Public Safety & Public Acceptance
  • Saturday and Sunday: Share the Skies – Get Out and Fly

Please tag your social media stories with #DroneWeek to let us know you’re participating in National Drone Safety Awareness Week.

For additional information, visit faa.gov/go/DroneWeek


All recreational flyers must pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of test passage (the TRUST completion certificate) to the FAA or law enforcement upon request. The FAA’s 2018 Reauthorization Bill (PDF) introduced new requirements for recreational pilots (see P.L. 115-254, Section 349 (PDF) – exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft).

What is a recreational flyer?

recreational flyer is someone who operates their drone for fun or personal enjoyment purposes only.

How to fly a drone recreationally:

  1. Pass TRUST
  2. If your drone weighs more than .55 lbs, register your drone through the FAA’s DroneZone
  3. Follow safety guidelines on the FAA website or of an existing aeromodelling organization

In June 2021, the FAA announced the following entities as FAA Approved Test Administrators of TRUST (FAA approved TRUST TA):

What is TRUST?

TRUST is The Recreational UAS Safety Test. It provides education and testing for recreational flyers on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly your drone recreationally under the Exception for Recreational Flyers you must pass the test before you fly.

How can I take the TRUST?

You may take the free online test through any of the approved test administrators listed above.

How does the TRUST work?

The FAA provides education and testing content to FAA Approved Test Administrators of TRUST, who in turn provide the content to recreational flyers for free.

The TRUST is divided into two sections:
The first section provides you with the information needed to pass the test.

The second section is a series of multiple choice questions. You cannot fail the test. If you answer a question incorrectly you will be provided with information on why the answer you chose was incorrect and will be prompted to try again.

Upon completion of the TRUST you will receive a completion certificate. The certificate never expires however if you lose your certificate you will need to re-take the test and obtain a new certificate. Neither the test administrator, nor the FAA, will maintain personally identifiable information about the recreational flyer so it is not possible to re-print or re-issue your original certificate.



20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks Remembered

September 11, 2021

Governor Phil Murphy attended 2021 Commemoration Ceremony for the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks held in New York City with President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.

A ceremony was held in Jersey City at the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial Foundation’s Empty Sky Remembrance Ceremony. See Governor Murphy’s remarks below.

The U.S. Coast Guard held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, NJ.

A 9/11 ceremony was held at the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs campus in Lawrenceville, NJ.


Remarks by Governor Phil Murphy in Jersey City:

It is truly an honor to join you all for this commemoration. 

I am honored to be among many friends … Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker … from my cabinet, the Adjutant General, Brigadier General Lisa Hou and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette … Mayor Steven Fulop … New York Waterway CEO and Chairman Armand Pohan … Survivor Wendy Lanski … 9/11 Memorial Foundation Chair Faith Miller.

Thank you, as well, to all the performers and units with us.

I will be brief. Not just because I want everyone I just mentioned to have time to share their thoughts, but also because today is not a day for words. 

Today, words give way to reflection and remembrance. Today is a day to renew our commitment to the ideals upon which this country was founded, and which have flourished over more than 200 years – the ideals which were under attack 20 years ago today, liberty and unity.

For every generation, there are moments seared into our collective memory – the events we can recall, without hesitation and with near-perfect clarity, no matter how much time has passed, exactly where we were, and what we were doing.

September 11th is one of these days. 

We feared for friends and loved ones – many who, to our great relief, were safe, including the thousands of precious lives that New York Waterway ferried to safety.

But there are also the 750 New Jerseyans – among the many, many hundreds more – who, to our extreme grief, were lost.

And there are also the towers, removed from the skyline in a matter of hours.

A span of twenty years means that while so many of us were alive to witness the attacks and their aftermath – whether we watched on television, gazed across the Hudson River from this spot, or stood on the streets of lower Manhattan – there is now an entire generation for whom 9/11 is just pictures and words.

They are a generation who never viewed the silhouette of the Twin Towners against a rising sun. They never experienced the rite of so many schoolchildren before them of a class trip to the roof – where it seemed you could touch the sky itself. 

And, hard as it is to believe, twenty years means they are now entering adulthood.

For them, there is a new tower. But, for us, we will always remember the Twin Towers, and empty sky of the night of September 11, 2001.

Faith and the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, along with survivors and their families, are doing tremendous work to ensure that September 11th isn’t ever relegated to textbooks. The Empty Sky memorial is vital to this effort, as are the countless stories we must remember. 

But the work is not theirs alone.

As we commemorate this 20th anniversary, all of us must ensure this and future generations continue to honor all those lost on that day…

…The men and women who went to work, and the families who boarded planes, not knowing what lay ahead.

…The first responders who rushed to help, whether it be the those receiving the wounded here in Jersey City, those rushing into the once-proud towers in New York, those racing to the smoking ruins at the Pentagon, or those called to an open field in the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

And we honor the ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary resolve in extraordinary times.

There is a saying, “Time heals all wounds.” Of course, for every saying, there is an exception. Today is certainly one. Time may have dried our collective tears, but time will never erase the names and the stories of those who were lost. 

They will always be in our hearts. Their memories will live within us, and as we look toward the heavens, the sky will never truly be empty.


Governor Phil Murphy ordered that U.S and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Saturday, September 11, 2021, in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 innocent people, of whom nearly 750 were New Jersey residents, that were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“20 years ago, hundreds of New Jerseyans left home for the last time,” said Governor Murphy. “Their lives were stolen in the September 11th attacks, along with thousands of other innocent men and women. We will never forget those taken from us that day, nor will we forget the sacrifices and efforts of first responders who saved the lives of countless civilians. We must also remember all the members of our armed forces and intelligence agencies who have defended our nation during the last 20 years, including those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Copy of Executive Order #261


On September 9, 2021 at 6:00 p.m., police officers from the Wall Township Police Department attended the September 11th Memorial Service at the Wall Township Municipal Complex.  Also in attendance were Wall Township Volunteer First Responders, Wall Township Committee members and families of 9/11 victims.  During the ceremony, Chief Kenneth Brown Jr. spoke about the police department’s response to Ground Zero.   










DHS to Increase Civil Penalties for Violations of the Federal Face Mask Requirement

The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. 

September 9, 2021

Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will increase the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on individuals who violate the federal mask mandate at airports, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation, including passenger railroads, intercity bus services, and other public transportation.  The federal mask mandate for transportation, which was implemented by TSA on February 2, 2021, will remain in effect until January 18, 2022.   

The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. 

“Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”

“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”  

TSA will provide updated signage at airports regarding these increased civil penalties.  For more information about the federal face mask requirement, visit the TSA Coronavirus webpage.

These federal mask mandate-related civil penalties are separate from the civil penalties the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues for individuals who engage in unruly and unsafe behavior.


Dancer calls for policyholders, not executives, to reap windfall benefits

September 9, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Revenues generated from a mutual holding company, now Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, should go toward reducing health insurance costs for policyholders and not lining the pockets of executives. Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would ensure policyholders catch a financial break, not just executives who are already well-paid.
 
“With record enrollment, profits and bonuses, we must ensure that revenues go toward reducing skyrocketing health insurance premiums,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said.
 
Dancer expressed concerns that overall compensation for Horizon executives climbed 20 percent last year, with out-going Chairman Kevin Conlin’s compensation rising to more than $5.1 million for 2020. His bonus for 2020 — $3.9 million, up from $3.4 million in 2019 — was determined by independent board members, according to Politico.com. Other executives have seen bonuses climb six figures as well.
 
Dancer’s amendment (ACR207) would ask voters if state assessments paid by Horizon should be dedicated to lowering health insurance costs. If passed, Horizon’s payments to the state of an initial $600 million, and 17 subsequent annual assessments of up to $650 million, would be dedicated to reducing policyholders’ insurance costs. The existing law requiring those assessments does not dedicate the funds. 
 
Horizon, presently the state’s only health service corporation, applied with the Department of Banking and Insurance to reorganize as a nonprofit mutual holding company on Feb. 4, 2020. That change would allow Horizon to invest billions into health care businesses across New Jersey and save it nearly $50 million annually in taxes.
 
Horizon’s revenue jumped 7% to $12.3 billion, driven by Medicare plan enrollments that swelled membership from 3.5 million to 3.7 million enrollees.
 
Meanwhile, insurance premiums are expected to rise an average of 4.4%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Employees pay an average premium of $1,745 after employer contributions. Independent health insurance plans can cost families thousands per month. Horizon did refund individual policyholders an average $367 a person back in February when projected 2019 health care costs came in lower than expected.
 
“The average person will never see a pay increase of more than 20% in a year and will never see a bonus in the millions of dollars. Horizon’s mission statement talks about affordability for its members, a statement I heartily endorse,” Dancer added. “There’s no good reason executives and policyholders can’t share the wealth.”
 
The Senate version, sponsored by Senator Samuel Thompson (R-Ocean), was introduced in June.


U.S. Department Of Labor Awards $6.7 Million In Worker Safety, Health Training, Grants To 37 Nonprofit Organizations

Newly available grants focus on stopping spread of infectious disease, including coronavirus

September 8, 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced the award of more than $6.7 million in grants to 37 nonprofit organizations nationwide to fund education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize infectious diseases, including coronavirus health hazards, and identify preventive measures for a safe workplace. In addition to hazard control, the training will also include understanding worker rights and employer responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. 

The award includes “Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the Coronavirus” grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grants derive from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, named for in honor of the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA’s Office of Risk Assessment. In her 17-year OSHA career, she helped develop federal standards to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.

The program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. These grants are a critical element in supporting OSHA’s role in educating workers on their rights and assisting employers with providing safe workplaces.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Learn more about the 2021 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients.

NJ recipients:

Susan Harwood Training Grant Program
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
FY 2021 Grant Recipients

New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Community Services Agency Inc. Trenton NJ $200,000

New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Community Services Agency proposes to provide 1 to 4 hours of COVID-19 training to 1,010
employers and workers in manufacturing, food manufacturing, wholesale and retail grocery, food service, retail, electrical,
and critical infrastructure construction industries. The targeted audience includes essential, temporary, limited-English
proficient, young, and other at-risk workers in high-hazard/high fatality industries. Training will include PPE, personal
hygiene, and housekeeping. The organization plans to revise existing materials and will include a train the trainer training.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, RBHS-SPH Piscataway NJ $172,489

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, RBHS-SPH proposes to provide 4 and 7.5 hours of training on COVID-19 to 465
employers and workers in the building management/custodial and healthcare industries. The targeted audience includes
workers from high-hazard industries, limited-English speaking, small businesses, and temporary workers. Training will
include respiratory protection for airborne diseases/contaminants and managing a respiratory program for airborne
infectious diseases. The organization plans to use and revise existing training materials. Training will be in English and
Spanish.

Work Environment Council of New Jersey, Inc. Trenton NJ $85,000

Work Environment Council of New Jersey, Inc. proposes to provide between 1 and 4 hours of COVID-19 training to 227
employers and workers in the retail, warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, restaurant, transportation, and food service
industries. The target audience includes temporary, minority, youth, and other hard-to reach workers. Training will include
OSHA’s guidance on mitigating/preventing the spread of COVID-19. The organization plans to use existing training materials
and develop new training materials. Training will be in English and Spanish.


Governor Murphy Announces Partnership With Uber and Lyft to Provide Ride Service to Residents Who Lost Transportation as a Result of Tropical Storm Ida

September 8, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced a partnership with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft in conjunction with United Way Worldwide and NJ 211 to provide access to free and discounted rides to New Jersey residents who lost a personal vehicle as a result of Tropical Storm Ida.

Over the next two weeks, New Jersey residents who lost a vehicle and need help accessing essential services can text NJIDARIDE to 898-211 to request a Lyft or Uber ride. Those without access to a smartphone can dial 2-1-1 from any phone line.

“In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, we must come together as a community and pick one another up,” said Governor Murphy. “I want to thank both Uber and Lyft for their generous offer of transportation for New Jerseyans in need.”

“Nobody should have to worry after a natural disaster how they will get to essential places like the grocery store and medical appointments. Lyft is proud to join Governor Murphy in helping New Jerseyans get where they need to go until they can get back on their feet,” said Lyft Social Impact Director Lisa Boyd.

“It is critical that everyone come together to support those in need and we are proud to work with Governor Murphy to provide essential transportation services across the state. We hope to play a small role in helping New Jersey residents get back on their feet,” said Alix Anfang, spokesperson, Uber.

“NJ 211 continues to answer the call for help from those impacted by Tropical Storm Ida. Over 1,000 contacts have been handled since the storm hit. We are thrilled to partner with Lyft and Uber to provide this essential service to our residents,” said Melissa Acree, Executive Director of NJ 211.

Some limitations may apply to the transportation offerings available from each company, so riders can contact 211 for additional information.

Tropical Storm Ida produced massive flooding throughout New Jersey, leaving thousands of residents without basic needs such as housing and transportation. Governor Murphy has declared a State of Emergency, which will facilitate access to federal relief aid. In the short term, the state has made available $10 million to help small businesses with rent payments as they recover from the storm. On Monday, the governor announced FEMA has approved a Major Disaster Declaration in Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset counties, with more assessments and additional counties expected to be included as the process develops. The declaration allows individuals in the six approved counties to register at www.disasterassistance.gov for direct assistance for Ida-related recovery, which may include home repairs, temporary housing, low-cost loans, and other programs to help recover from the effects of the tropical storm.


Murphy Administration Charges Toward an Electric Vehicle Future, Including New Effort to Encourage EV Charging Infrastructure in Every New Jersey Municipality

September 8, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Murphy Administration took another step toward electrifying New Jersey’s transportation sector today, unveiling a statewide municipal ordinance that makes it easier for people to drive electric by streamlining the local approval process for installing convenient and cost-effective charging infrastructure. The model ordinance, which provides minimum requirements and consistent guidance for electrification, is the result of legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy in July and is effective immediately in each of the State’s 565 municipalities.

Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is confronting the climate crisis by reducing emissions and enhancing the state’s resilience. Reducing transportation emissions, which comprise more than 40 percent of the state’s climate pollution, is a key component of Governor Murphy’s plan for achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The model ordinance released today follows the Murphy Administration’s investment of over $100 million in clean, equitable transportation, its proposal to limit emissions under the state’s Climate Pollutant Reduction (CPR) rules, and the launch of multiple electric vehicle (EV) incentive programs, including Charge Up New Jersey and NJZIP.   

New Jersey’s efforts are underscored by President Biden’s issuance earlier this month of an Executive Order targeting car and truck emissions and requiring that half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 be electric. The President also proposed new emissions standards to cut pollution through 2026. 

“Earlier this year, I announced an investment of more than $100 million in clean, equitable transportation projects to improve air quality and reduce the effects of climate change while moving New Jersey towards 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Making smart investments in our transportation infrastructure, such as encouraging electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state, will help build a stronger, fairer, and greener New Jersey for generations to come.” 

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) developed the statewide municipal ordinance to ensure that Electric Vehicle Supply/Service Equipment (EVSE) and Make-Ready parking spaces would be permitted uses in all areas of the state in order to enable EV adoption among residents who can’t charge at home and to alleviate “range anxiety” by increasing the proximity of charging infrastructure and giving residents the confidence to drive electric. 

Several sections of the model ordinance, including requirements for municipal approvals and permits, EV-ready development, and minimum parking requirements, are directives from the July law and cannot be altered. Other sections, specifically those related to health and safety factors (lighting and signage, for example), provide minimum guidance for consistency, but allow for municipal modifications as needed. The statewide municipal ordinance will supersede requirements in communities with existing EV charging ordinances.  

“New Jersey municipalities are on the front lines of the climate crisis, both in responding to its impacts and leading the charge to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lt. Governor and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver. “This statewide municipal ordinance provides them with consistent guidance on how to make those changes in the most efficient and cost-effective way and is a big step toward ensuring that our communities are ready for a carbon-neutral future.” 

“The transportation sector is New Jersey’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, impacting air quality and generating more climate pollution,” said DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “It is vital that we facilitate New Jersey’s rapid transition to an electric vehicle future, which will improve air quality, particularly in communities most overburdened by pollution, and reduce the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that continue fueling climate change. The steps we are taking across the Murphy Administration will move us closer to a clean energy future and help us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”   

“Governor Murphy is committed to building a stronger, greener economy in New Jersey, and he understands that supporting clean energy is not only critical to addressing the dangers of climate change, but will also drive economic growth and support more vibrant, healthier communities,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Clean energy is a rapidly growing sector that is driving economic growth and job creation in New Jersey, and making it easy for New Jersey drivers to switch to electric vehicles will help us continue to grow this important industry while advancing environmental justice and fostering safer, cleaner communities throughout the state.”

“Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan is a holistic approach to New Jersey’s energy landscape and for the first time includes transportation, which accounts for over 40 percent of our emissions,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “We have a moral responsibility to reduce our emissions so that we can mitigate climate change and improve public health. The BPU, in partnership with our sister agencies, will continue to craft the necessary tools for a seamless transition to electrification while simultaneously greening the grid with renewable energies like solar and offshore wind.” 

Electrifying New Jersey’s transportation sector is critical to achieving the Murphy Administration’s vital climate goals, including a transformation to 100 percent clean energy and an 80 percent reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2006 levels. 

These initiatives are outlined in the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report, released in October 2020, which found that New Jersey must rapidly implement an economy-wide transformation to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs. 

In April, New Jersey proposed regulations modeled after California’s Advanced Clean Truck Rule, which requires manufacturers to sell an increasing number of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the state. If adopted, the requirements would begin with model year 2025 and ramp up to model year 2035. 

To further encourage EV use, Governor Murphy signed the Electric Vehicle law in January 2020, establishing purchase and use metrics for EVs, charging infrastructure, parking spaces, and the makeup of state fleet vehicles.

The state also uses the bulk of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction proceeds to invest in vehicle electrification strategies, focusing primarily on environmental justice communities that have experienced a disproportionate burden of air pollution issues.  

New Jersey also provides EV charging station funds through the DEP’s “It Pay$ to Plug In” grant program as well as cash-on-the-hood rebates for new EVs through BPU’s Charge Up New Jersey incentive program. State agencies are also leading by example with BPU’s Clean Fleet EV incentive, which provides grant funding for state and local governments to convert their vehicle fleets to electric and install EV charging stations at their facilities. 

Other significant steps to electrify transportation include: 

  • Forming the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, a first-of-its-kind, statewide interagency partnership to create a strategic and streamlined framework to increase the number of EVs in New Jersey.
  • Signing landmark legislation to boost EV use in New Jersey by setting aggressive goals for New Jersey EV sales and public charging stations, requiring the establishment of rebates for EV purchases, and directing the state to electrify its fleet.
  • Releasing a comprehensive Energy Master Plan that includes rigorous goals and spans multiple sectors and governmental agencies to achieve the 100 percent clean energy goal. The Energy Master Plan defines clean energy as 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity generation and anticipates that the vast majority of electricity will come from carbon-free resources by 2050. 

To learn more about the DCA Statewide EV Municipal Ordinance, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/dlps/home/modelEVordinance.shtml

For more information about the DEP’s Drive Green New Jersey program initiatives, visit www.drivegreen.nj.gov/index.html 


President Biden Visits Manville And Surrounding Areas In Response To Hurricane Ida

September 7, 2021

MANVILLE, NJ (SOMERSET)–Earlier today, President Biden visited Manville and other areas devastated by Hurricane Ida. The President met with Governor Phil Murphy and other officials about the severe flooding and damage. See full remarks from President Biden below.


President Biden’s Motorcade in Manville, NJ video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response




Remarks by President Biden in Briefing on the Impact of Hurricane Ida in Hillsborough Township, NJ

Somerset County Emergency Management Training Center
Hillsborough Township, New Jersey

12:23 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Gov.  Thank you.  Wish I were here under different circumstances, but you really took a hit and New Jersey took a hit; parts of my state as well, but New Jersey and New York in particular.  

And I want to begin by thanking Senator Booker for all the work he’s doing in the Senate trying to get this infrastructure and other — the things we have to do to not just build back, but build back better than it was before. 

And I want to thank Representative Watson and — now, am I in your district or am I in — I’m in Tommy’s district —

REPRESENTATIVE WATSON COLEMAN:  You’ll be in my district in a moment.

THE PRESIDENT:  In a moment.  Okay.  We’re right on the line.

REPRESENTATIVE MALINOWSKI:  We’re all one district.

THE PRESIDENT:  I — I think that’s true.  And you also have one of the best state police forces in the nation.  I’m a big statey guy, and so is Delaware. 

But thank you very much for all you do. 

Look, to the local officials, the mayors, and the county commissioner: You really get hit first.  They come to you first.  They want to know what’s going on, what you can do to help them.  And, in some cases, even with search and rescue, you can have some of the least reach in terms of availability of resources.

And the one thing I will say — and I really want to thank my FEMA director.  She’s done one thing that — and we had a great FEMA director in the past as well — that makes it work.  When you get local, state, and federal working together, it is more than three times — it’s — it’s like 10 times what it would be if just having one moving.

And the losses that we witnessed today are profound: dozens of lost lives; homes destroyed in Manville, including by gas leaks triggered by the flooding; damaged infrastructure, including the rail system.  And my thoughts are with all those families affected by the storms and all those families who lost someone they love. 

I understand there are still two — is it two people missing?  Or —

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Four.

THE PRESIDENT:  Four people still missing.  And I especially want to thank — and it’s an overused phrase, but the brave first responders.  I — you know, we have — you have exemplified the courage, both in New Jersey and next door in New York.  They’ve done an incredible job.

And we’re working closely with Governor Murphy, and we’re going to continue to do so.  I’m here to see firsthand what the damage is and find out directly from you all what — what is most needed.

Now, look, FEMA has been, I hope, as responsive as we’ve intended them to be, and I’m sure they have.  A hundred and thirty-two personnel from FEMA, so far, including federal search and rescue teams, including 60 individuals; Incident Management Assistant Teams of 20 people to support these response operations; and Mobile Emergency Response Support teams — six of them — to provide communications and logistics support.

And on Sunday, when — when the governor — and we spoke to the governor and he asked for the major disaster declaration, we made it available immediately so that we could speed federal assistance as quickly as we could to hard-hit communities.

The FEMA Administrator was on the ground here in New Jersey yesterday, I believe, to assess the damage.  She’s visited two communities, Mullica Hills and Wenonah, hit by the tornado, as — that was on the ground just — what? — for over 13 miles that was on the ground, that tornado — those tornados.

The HHS Secretary has worked with the state to make sure folks on Medicare and Medicaid get the emergency care they need now.  And we’re going to make sure the relief is equitable so that those hardest hit get what they need.  And they — and we know there’s a lot more to do, and that’s why we’re here.

For decades, scientists have warned of extreme — weather would be more extreme and climate change was here, and we’re living through it now.  We don’t have any more time.

I hope no one — I’ve been on the telephone or on the road an awful lot between California, Idaho, New Orleans — excuse me, not New Orleans — Louisiana, but in New Orleans — Mississippi and, you know, here.  I mean, every part of the country — every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather.  And we’re now living in real time what the country is going to look like.  And if we don’t do something — we can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse. 

And so, we’re all in this together, and we’ve got to — we’ve got to make sure that we don’t leave any community behind.  And it’s all across the country. 

You know, the members of Congress know from their colleagues in Congress that, you know, the — what looks like a tornado — they don’t call them that anymore — that hit the crops and wetlands in the middle of the country, in Iowa, in Nevada, and — I mean, it’s just across the board. 

And, you know, as I said, we’re in this together.  And so, one of the things that, today, I’m going to ask you about when we get into this — some question and answers here, is about how we’re going to build back realizing what the status of the climate is now, what the trajectory of it is going to be. 

And we can no longer — we all know — we can’t just build back to what it was before.  Whatever damage done in New Jersey, you can’t build back and restore it — what it was before, because another tornado, another 10 inches of rain is going to produce the same kind of results. 

So, I want to talk a little bit about the specifics about the things you think you would need not just to get back to normal, but to get back to a place where, if it happened again, the damage would be considerably less.  That’s what this is all about, in my view.  This is an opportunity. 

I think the country has finally acknowledged the fact that global warming is real and it’s moving at an incredible pace, and we’ve got to do something about it. 

I’m going to be going from here to what — COP29 [COP26] in Glasgow for the world meeting together and how we’re going to deal with climate change.  And it is — it’s — I think we’re at one of those inflection points where we either act or we’re going to be — we’re going to be in real, real trouble.  Our kids are going to be in real trouble. 

So I want to thank you, and I yield back to you, Gov.

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Amen to all.  And again, we can’t thank you enough for being here, for all your support. 

Another person who we’re going to hear from next has been there for us.  And Deanne Criswell, who’s the Administrator for FEMA — we’ve had a lot of conversations over the past several weeks, harking back to Henri, which also wreaked some havoc in New Jersey but nothing like Ida. 

Madam Administrator, it’s an honor to have you here.

ADMINISTRATOR CRISWELL:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Governor.  And thank you to all the elected officials, commissioners, and mayors that are here today.

I’d actually like to start by giving a big shout-out to all of the first responders that have been supporting the lifesaving efforts over the last few days, many of them in your own communities, many of them who have had damages to their own homes.  And I just want everybody to know: The hard work that you do is really appreciated at — you know, in your communities, but also at the federal level as well.  We couldn’t do it without you.  You’re the ones on the ground.  I always say it, and you’ve heard from others as well: Disasters always start and end local, and so we want to make sure that we’re here to support the first responders. 

I did spend yesterday visiting some of the damaged areas and meeting with local officials.  I toured Mullica Hill and Wenonah, and witnessed firsthand the destruction that these tornadoes did bring.

But because of the President’s swift action in declaring a major disaster declaration, we’ve been able to now provide aid to some of the families who have been impacted, specifically those individuals that live in Bergen, Gloucester — excuse me if I get these wrong — pronounce them wrong — Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset.  And —

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s okay as long as you send the money.

ADMINISTRATOR CRISWELL:  I’m sending money.  I bring a checkbook, Mr. President, that you gave me. 

And we’re continuing to do damage assessments today.  So I have staff on the ground today that are doing assessments in Essex, Hudson, Union, and Mercer.  And, you know, we wanted to be able to get this disaster declaration in place quickly, knowing that we still needed to do additional damage assessments, to really get a better understanding of the scope of the impact that the communities are experiencing across New Jersey. 

So far, we actually already have over 7,000 families that have registered for assistance, and that number will continue to grow.  But if they haven’t registered yet, individuals can go to DisasterAssistance.gov, they can go to our FEMA app, or they can call 1-800-621-FEMA.  That’s 1-800-621-3362. 

Additionally, we’re going to have teams that are going in the neighborhoods.  They will also be in the recovery centers when they’re established.  If you haven’t registered, they can assist you with registering.  If you have and you have questions about your case, just find somebody with a FEMA shirt and they’ll help you understand where it’s at and if you — if you need to provide any more information.

I mean, I think — you know, the thing that’s been remarkable over the last few weeks in watching the track of Hurricane Ida that really caused damage across nine states is that the weather events such as these are just becoming more normal.  They’re becoming more common, but they’re more severe and they’re more intense.  And the effects of climate change that are causing these storms is here, and it’s our job to make sure that we are all ready to respond, as well as prepared.

And FEMA is really committed to helping with making communities more resilient.  We recently authorized, on behalf of the President, close to $5 billion in hazard mitigation funding to help give communities that extra resource to build that resiliency.  It’s just the first step.  But FEMA wants to be an active participant in this role of making sure that we’re preparing to reduce the impacts from the future risks that we’re going to continue to see as a result of climate change. 

And then, lastly, I’d just like to say: This is September, and it is National Preparedness Month, and our theme this year is “Prepare to Protect.”  And I think what we saw over the last week is that nobody is immune from the threats that we’re facing from these disasters. 

I read recently that it said one in three Americans have already experienced a major disaster this year.  I can’t, you know, verify that number, but it’s there.  People are experiencing these events.  We need to invest in reducing the risk that these communities are facing, but we also need to make sure that we’re helping individuals be prepared.

And so, if you don’t have an emergency plan, please go to Ready.gov, and there’s some great information there to help you prepare for what you may be experiencing in the future. 

Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Governor. 

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Thank you.  Thank you, Deanne.  Thank you for the major disaster declaration for those six counties, including this one, and for your work to hopefully add to that list.  I know your team is — is on that. 

Again, it’s DisasterAssistance.gov if you’re in those six counties.  If you’re not in the six counties, we have a website set up — NJ.gov/Ida — and, hopefully, that’s a landing place for now for folks to go until — please, God — they get designated as a disaster county.  So, thank you for everything.  You all have been extraordinary. 

We’re in Somerset County and we’re honored to have the Commissioner Director with us, an outstanding leader.  Hear a few words from Shanel Robinson.  Shanel.

COMMISSIONER DIRECTOR ROBINSON:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  And thank you, Governor.  And welcome, to all of you, to Somerset County’s Emergency Operations Center.  And thank you for visiting to see the catastrophic damage that Ida brought firsthand.

We all greatly appreciate your commitment to our recovery and especially for our inclusion in FEMA’s disas- — major disaster declaration.  So, again, thank you for that.

Now, as you tour Manville today, you will see the heart and spirit and the resilience of the people of Somerset County.  You will see the devastation that Ida brought, but nevertheless, we will continue to do and build a better and stronger community.

Hurricane Ida is our fourth — understand, our fourth storm of the 100-year storm in just over two decades.  And as you mentioned, Mr. President, it’s only going to get worse.

But this historic storm has hit us particularly hard.  You know, in Somerset County, the result was not just a deluge of waters, but a deluge of emergencies. 

In our own, Somerset County 911 Communications Center fielded over 13,000 calls that night, 5,000 of them being 911; 520 air and water rescues, where people were rescued from their vehicles or from their homes; 170 fire alarms; 8 explosions; and there are countless of automobile accidents and injuries.

But as we all can attest to and can agree to is that our first responders — state, local rescue teams — risked their own safety to save the lives of the residents of not only Somerset County, but of the state of New Jersey. 

And I would be remiss if I did not thank our Somerset County Department of Public Works who were, with their front loaders, rescuing people who were out there cleaning the debris, making sure the roadways were safe and blocked from those that entered into dangerous paths.

But also, during the worst of the raging waters in our Millstone and Raritan rivers — they raged over our 750 bridges here in Somerset County alone, but yet our workers were there to make sure that they were doing all that they could to make sure that our residents were safe.

And sadly, six Somerset County residents lost their lives to the floodwaters.  We must continue to hold their families and loved ones in our prayers and in our hearts. 

But again, because of Ida’s devastation, we know that we cannot forget that we must endure, as we have thousands of people that are continuing to seek shelter. 

Our collective mission now — as you see around the room, you have local, county, state, and federal officials coming together to making sure that we get our families back into our homes, make sure that our businesses are operating again, and to repair and restore our public infrastructure.

Here in New Jersey, there is a strong connection — again, the leadership who are in the room — there’s a strong connection to make sure that we’re doing all that we can for the residents of New Jersey, not just Somerset County.  And we must do all that we can to make sure that the residents know that we have their back.  And as you said, Commissioner — Administrator, we’re here to prepare to protect.  And if the residents do not feel that we have their backs, then we failed them.

So, over the weekend, we’ve transitioned from emergency response to disaster recovery.  This will not only take weeks, but months or even longer.  We will never be back to close to normal, but all we can do is do better.

We will need FEMA, the Red Cross, state and local OEM, and nonprofits to come together to ensure that the recovery is not just for some, but for all.

So, again, thank you, Mr. President.  And thank you, Governor.  And thank you to all of you for your resiliency and for your deep concern for not only Som- — not only Somerset County, but the state of New Jersey, and your commitment to our recovery.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Shanel.

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Thank you, Shanel.  Great leadership by you and your team, as you said, at the county and local level, and heroism all over the state by first responders.

With your blessing, Mr. President, I think we have one more speaker before our friends in the press leave, and that is the superintendent of our state police, Colonel Pat Callahan, who has been there every single day during this pandemic and certainly through Ida and all the other weather challenges we’ve had. 

Pat, over to you. 

COLONEL CALLAHAN:  Thank you, Governor, for that introduction and certainly for your continued leadership through probably some of the most challenging times in New Jersey’s history. 

And thank you, Mr. President, especially for your kind words about the state police.  Delaware State Police is pretty good too, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  The best.

COLONEL CALLAHAN:  (Laughs.)  But your presence here sends a strong message to all of us and to our residents that that support — from not only response, to recovery, mitigation — that the federal government is here, and that we saw that yesterday when the Administrator and I walked around and spoke to those homeowners.  So, thank you. 

And I also want to take this opportunity to thank and offer my gratitude for the swift offers of assistance that we got from the White House, from FEMA, Department of Defense, HHS.  It’s an honor to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you and show the rest of the country what it means to be a true collaborative effort here.  So, thank you.

And just a little bit about the day of the storm, Mr. President: That morning of, at 10:00 a.m., we hosted a call with the National Weather Service, all of our county OEM coordinators, our state emergency management partners.  We activated our SEOC two hours later.  And then, in short order, that unprecedented amount of rainfall just stagger- — staggering rate fell and ravaged our state, upending families and causing a horrible loss of life, as you’ve heard.

To give a broad picture, very few areas were unscathed.  Flooding occurred in 10 of our 21 counties that were normally not flood prone.  And as we witnessed yesterday, that EF-3 that hit down on that 13-mile path, starting with — over in Harrison Township, all the way up through Wenonah and out. 

So it — that all happened in a period of about 9 or 10 hours.

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Yep.

COLONEL CALLAHAN:  Almost three months of rain in about five hours.  Just unprecedented.  The rivers exceeded their levels even today.  The Passaic rifer [sic] is — Passaic River is not expected to fall below flood stage until tomorrow.  We might even be expecting some rain tomorrow, which we’re keeping an eye on, as you could well know. 

And, Mr. President, while we prepared our roadways, we cleared storm drains and debris, the amount of rainfall was overwhelming.  Whole roadways were actually swept completely away.  Motorists were stranded for hours.  And, as you know, sadly, some of them never made it home. 

Our search and rescue personnel, just at the state level alone, had 543 rescues.  And collectively, our local first responders — to your point — more than 3,500 rescues in that time, leaving their own families, leaving their own homes.  And our missing persons operations are still ongoing for those four.

The preliminary damage assessments have been happening at a rapid rate.  And as we know, that those four additional counties — that we’re hopefully going to get there.  So, thank you for that. 

The debris removal costs alone for this one are going to be staggering, as everybody in the room knows.  And some of our most economically vulnerable populations have been hit the hardest, with many individuals who lost their homes, they lost their vehicles, and they lost their jobs all in that 10-hour period. 

Shelter is going to be a need, temporary housing, the debris removal, and sadly, unemployment and funeral assistance for several of those families. 

But I would like to point out that the damage that we witnessed probably would have been significantly worse if it wasn’t for the mitigation efforts that New Jersey had in place for the past several years, thanks to our partnership with FEMA.

In New Jersey, we have a return of six dollars in savings for every dollar spent from our mitigation.  I think that puts us in the top five of the 50 states, which is pretty phenomenal.  So that’s under Governor Murphy’s leadership.

Our Climate and Flood Resilience Program and Interagency Council on Climate Resilience is undertaking bold and comprehensive actions to ensure that our communities and infrastructure are more resilient for future storms.  And I know that’s what you spoke of in your remarks: that resiliency can’t mean bouncing back; resiliency has to be bouncing forward because these storms are going to keep coming.

So investing that federal funding in our state will certainly ensure that we’re building a better nation together, and I know that that’s a priority for you and your administration.

So, in closing, I echo the Governor’s remarks and welcome you here to New Jersey, while I certainly wish it were under different circumstances. 

But having lived your life in our neighborhood, you know that we’re a strong, resilient people and a tough state, and I — together, I know that we’re going to get our families and our citizens back and forward from where we need to be.

So, thank you, sir.  It was an honor.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank all your troopers for us too.  We — for real.

GOVERNOR MURPHY:  Thank you.  And it has to be said, Mr. President — and I think the mayors you will hear from in a minute — the press, I think, with your blessing, are going to depart if I’m not — if I’ve got that right.

Every loss of life is a tragedy, never mind 27 — and four missing.  But, literally, thousands of rescues —

Governor Murphy Announces FEMA Major Disaster Declaration for Six New Jersey Counties Impacted by Tropical Storm Ida – Tours Flood Ravaged Lambertville

Residents and Businessowners in Six FEMA-Approved Counties Can Register for Individual Direct Assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov

State Launches Additional Data Collection Portal at www.nj.gov/ida for Individuals in Counties Where FEMA is Still Evaluating Financial Assistance

September 6, 2021

LAMBERTVILLE, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy today announced that FEMA has approved a Major Disaster Declaration in Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset counties. The declaration will allow individuals in the six approved counties to register at www.disasterassistance.gov for direct assistance for Ida-related recovery, which may include home repairs, temporary housing, low-cost loans, and other programs to help recover from the effects of the tropical storm.

Governor Murphy today also announced that the state has launched a data collection portal to gather data from impacted individuals outside of the six counties where FEMA has declared the Major Disaster Declaration. FEMA and the State continue to evaluate damage in other counties and the state portal will ensure that all Ida damages across all counties in the State are evaluated for potential FEMA assistance. The state portal will record basic information including name, location, damages and cost, and need from impacted residents and businesses. It is accessible at nj.gov/ida and damagenj-njoem.hub.arcgis.com

“Many residents of our state are facing a long road ahead as they recover from Ida,” said Governor Murphy. “I am very grateful to the Biden Administration and FEMA for their swift approval of the Major Disaster Declaration for six of our counties. I urge residents and businessowners in those counties to visit FEMA’s website and begin the application process. We also urge residents outside of the six counties to register their information at nj.gov/ida so that we can be ready to get dollars into the hands of additional New Jerseyans as soon as we are able.”

“I applaud the extraordinary efforts of FEMA for their continued support to the residents of New Jersey that are recovering from Tropical Storm Ida,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This Major Disaster Declaration and data collection portal will expedite the recovery process and aid us in our effort to become a more resilient state as we build our communities back.”

The Governor made the announcement during a visit to Lambertville, a Delaware River community in Hunterdon County where many individuals faced severe storm impacts.


LAMBERTVILLE – Governor Phil Murphy today provided an update on preliminary fatalities and New Jerseyans who have been reported missing as a result of Tropical Storm Ida.   

“Currently, we have no additional fatalities to report,” said Governor Murphy. “Our thoughts and prayers are with every family and community mourning a loved one and of those who remain missing.”   


Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News



Acting AG Bruck Warns Against Price Gouging and Other Disaster-Related Fraud in the Wake of Tropical Storm Ida

September 3, 2021

Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) today alerted residents to beware of price gouging and consumer fraud following Governor Murphy’s declaration of a State of Emergency related to Tropical Storm Ida. “New Jerseyans recovering from the after-effects of Hurricane Ida should not be faced with price gouging from those who try to take advantage of tragedy and uncertainty,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “We will do everything we can to combat this unfair and illegal practice.” “Our message is clear: if you prey on the victims of this tragedy, we will find you and we will make you pay,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Our laws prohibit price gouging and consumer fraud, and we will crack down on anyone who seeks to illegally profit from others’ vulnerability in a time of need.”


 “We will not allow anyone  to unlawfully increase prices for food, gas, hotel rooms, generators, or other necessary items or services, or otherwise take financial advantage of residents as they struggle to recover from the storm damage,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “In times of emergency, we should all be looking for ways to help those in need, not take advantage of them. Residents are encouraged to immediately report any suspected instance of price gouging or consumer fraud. The Division of Consumer Affairs stands ready to hold violators accountable.” Tips on Price Gouging: New Jersey’s price gouging law prohibits excessive price increases during a declared State of Emergency and for 30 days after its termination. An excessive price increase is any price that exceeds 10 percent of the price the product or service was sold during the normal course of business prior to the State of Emergency.


 Price-gouging violations are punishable by civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses. Violators may also be required to pay consumer restitution, attorney’s fees, investigative fees, and injunctive relief. Each individual sale of merchandise is considered a separate and distinct violation.


Tips on Home Repairs: Victims of natural disasters are often faced with thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs to make their homes habitable again. Homeowners can protect themselves from dishonest home improvement contractors by heeding the following tips:

  • Shop around and obtain at least three written estimates. Ask the contractors if they have liability insurance (as required by law) and whether they will be using subcontractors on the project.
  • Call Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Service Center at 800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200 to find out if the contractor you are considering is registered or has been the subject of complaints and/or action by the State.
  • Look for red flags. Be wary if a contractor tells you that he or she needs a large payment before the home repair work can begin, insists that you pay cash, or tells you a written contract is not necessary – that a verbal agreement is enough. Contracts for home improvement projects costing $500 or more must be in writing.
  • Avoid contractors that don’t have a fixed location that you can go to, if needed. All home improvement contractors must be registered with Consumer Affairs. If you hire a contractor, make sure you get names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers and vehicle descriptions for all individuals working on your home. If a problem does occur, this information will help law enforcement locate the contractor.
  • Before you let in anyone who claims to have been sent by a utility company to inspect your home, ask for identification. Representatives of utilities and reputable businesses will have proper identification. When in doubt, call the company to verify the identity of the worker.

For more tips on how to avoid flood-related fraud, visit the Division’s website. If you believe price gouging or other disaster-related fraud is occurring, contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at (973) 504-6240. Please leave your name, contact information, nature of the complaint, and as much information about the individual or business you are complaining about that you have, including the name and location. In cases of suspected price gouging, when possible, consumers should note the price of a good or service prior to the declared state of emergency, and the price after the state of emergency has been declared, when filing a complaint. Investigators will work to address the complaint as quickly as possible. Consumers are also encouraged to file complaints online by visiting the Division’s website.  


Coast Guard urges safe boating practices over Labor Day weekend

September 3, 2021

The Coast Guard reminds mariners and beach goers to exercise caution and practice safe boating during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the winding down of the summer boating season in advance of the cooler weather and air temperatures of the fall. As boaters take to the water during the busy weekend, there is an increased likelihood for search and rescue situations, mechanical failures and accidents.

The Coast Guard recommends boaters:

  • Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway. 80% of boating deaths are due to drowning and 86% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. In addition, if you are enjoying paddlesports, always wear your life jacket. It can be difficult to anticipate how tired you may become when entering the water, and it can be extremely difficult to don a life jacket in the water even when fully rested.
  • Make sure your life jacket is properly fitted. People can slip out of ill-fitting life jackets when they hit the water, which immediately decreases their chances of survival.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Aside from wearing a life jacket, not drinking and boating is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating vessels under the influence of alcohol, drugs or impairing medication pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard.
  • Make a VHF radio your go-to means of communicating in an emergency. Cell phones may go out of range or lose battery power when needed most.
  • Locator beacons can help us find you faster. Attaching a functioning EPIRB to your boat, or a PPIRB to your life jacket, and knowing how to use them can help rescuers find and help you.
  • File a float plan. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Float plans provide a starting point to help find you if something happens. Check out the Coast Guard Boating Safety app. You can file a float plan, request assistance, request a vessel safety check, and report pollution and hazards to navigation.
  • Look at the weather and tides before you head out. It might look like a nice day, but squalls and shifting tides and change suddenly.
  • Dress for the water, not for the weather. Check water temperatures before you go out and dress accordingly.

Garden State Equality and ACLU-NJ to County Jails: Follow the Law and House Transgender People According to Gender Identity

Advocates remind facilities of obligations under Law Against Discrimination and urge adoption of new policy

September 2, 2021

ASBURY PARK, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On August 26, the ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality (GSE) sent letters to every county jail in New Jersey reminding them of their legal responsibility to respect the rights of transgender people and urging them to adopt new policies and practices to ensure that people can be housed in line with their gender identity, and not sex assigned at birth. 

Earlier this summer, the New Jersey Department of Corrections enacted a new state prison policy that implements protections for people in state custody who are transgender, intersex, and non-binary. This policy was adopted in June as a result of a lawsuit brought by Sonia Doe (a pseudonym), who was represented by the ACLU of New Jersey and attorney Robyn Gigl of GluckWalrath LLP. During her time in custody, Sonia Doe was forced to live as a man while being housed in four different men’s prisons despite the Department of Corrections’ knowledge that she is a woman.  

Sonia Doe is not the only transgender person who faced extraordinary risk of emotional and physical harm in New Jersey prisons. In a national survey, 21 percent of transgender women confined in men’s facilities reported suffering physical abuse while in prison, and 20 percent reported sexual violence.

“The Department of Corrections’ new policy was a significant step forward in the effort to ensure that transgender, intersex, and non-binary people in state custody are treated fairly and with dignity,” said Jeanne LoCicero, Legal Director at the ACLU of New Jersey. “With thousands of other people in custody in county jails, it is also urgent for jail leaders to act and adopt similar policies and practices that respect gender identity.”

“Too many transgender, intersex, and non-binary people have faced disrespect, discrimination, and danger while in custody,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “Notifying county jails of their legal obligation to respect transgender, intersex, and non-binary people in their custody is a crucial step towards ending such discrimination in New Jersey.”

After receiving the letter from the ACLU of New Jersey and GSE, the New Jersey Association of Counties told the New Jersey Monitor that county jail wardens would adopt the protections the Department of Corrections had undertaken, saying, “all [wardens] will make sure to comply with the new protocols to ensure that ‘transgender people in custody are respected in housing decisions, interactions with correctional staff, and other aspects of their lives in jail,’ as noted in the letter.”

The full letter can be found here.


Governor Murphy Declares State of Emergency in Response to Tropical Storm Ida

September 1, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy declared that New Jersey will enter a State of Emergency effective immediately in response to Tropical Storm Ida. Executive Order No. 259 declares a State of Emergency across all 21 counties in New Jersey, allowing resources to be deployed throughout the state during the duration of the storm. 


“Tropical Storm Ida is severely impacting all areas of our state,” said Governor Murphy. “The safety of our residents is our main priority, and we urge everyone to be informed of local weather conditions and to stay off the roads.”
The Governor encourages New Jerseyans to visit ready.nj.gov for important weather updates and safety information. Residents should also pay attention to local forecasts, warnings, and watches.For those living in Central and Southern New Jersey, visit the U.S. National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly at http://www.weather.gov/phi/

For those living in Northern New Jersey and the New York Metro area, visit the U.S. National Weather Service New York, N.Y. at http://www.weather.gov/okx/Copy of Executive Order No. 259





Tropical Storm Ida Stories Here:

Tropical Storm Ida Floods Lawrence Township 100+ Displaced

2 Tropical Storm Ida Related Fatalities And 50 Rescues Made In Hopewell Township Floods

BREAKING: House Explodes In Manville, NJ

Tropical Storm Ida Pounds Area, Tornados, Flash Floods, Rescues Made, Deaths Reported

City of Trenton Continuing Evacuation Proceedings in High-Risk Flood Zones as Water Levels Rise Again

Trenton Evacuates “The Island” In Preparation Of Anticipated Flooding

BREAKING: “Miracle In Mercer County” As 3 Police Officers Rescued After Being Swept Away By Floods

Governor Murphy Declares State of Emergency in Response to Tropical Storm Ida

BREAKING: Reports of NJ Task Force 1 Activation For Tornado In South Jersey And Flooding

Tornado Emergency Take Cover!

City of Trenton to Start Voluntary Evacuation Proceedings in High-Risk Flood Zones

Tornado Warning


BREAKING: Reports of NJ Task Force 1 Activation For Tornado In South Jersey And Flooding

September 1, 2021

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–MidJersey.News has received unofficial word that NJ Taskforce 1 is assembling for tornado damage in Gloucester County and also flooding in North Jersey. This is a breaking story once we have more information we will let you know.

Pay close attention to the weather warnings tonight there have been several confirmed tornados on the ground and flash flooding.



Tropical Storm Ida Stories Here:

Tropical Storm Ida Floods Lawrence Township 100+ Displaced

2 Tropical Storm Ida Related Fatalities And 50 Rescues Made In Hopewell Township Floods

BREAKING: House Explodes In Manville, NJ

Tropical Storm Ida Pounds Area, Tornados, Flash Floods, Rescues Made, Deaths Reported

City of Trenton Continuing Evacuation Proceedings in High-Risk Flood Zones as Water Levels Rise Again

Trenton Evacuates “The Island” In Preparation Of Anticipated Flooding

BREAKING: “Miracle In Mercer County” As 3 Police Officers Rescued After Being Swept Away By Floods

Governor Murphy Declares State of Emergency in Response to Tropical Storm Ida

BREAKING: Reports of NJ Task Force 1 Activation For Tornado In South Jersey And Flooding

Tornado Emergency Take Cover!

City of Trenton to Start Voluntary Evacuation Proceedings in High-Risk Flood Zones

Tornado Warning


Governor Murphy Directs U.S. and New Jersey Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Berkeley Township Beach Patrol Lifeguard Keith Pinto

September 1, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today ordered that the U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Friday, September 3, 2021 to honor Berkeley Township Beach Patrol Lifeguard Keith Pinto, who was fatally injured by a lightning strike while on-duty at White Sands Beach.


“I was devastated to learn of Keith’s passing in a tragic incident earlier this week,” said Governor Murphy. “He took on the selfless and great responsibility of protecting beachgoers at White Sands Beach. We mourn his loss and we will never forget his service to Berkeley Township and the many families that he kept safe. Our prayers are with Keith’s family, friends, and his fellow lifeguards.”


Copy of Executive Order No. 258


Tragic Loss At The Jersey Shore As Lightning Claims Lifeguard And Injures 7 Others



Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Establish the “Amistad Commission Exemplary Award Program”

August 31, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed S3654 into law establishing the “Amistad Commission Exemplary Award Program.” The program is charged with identifying outstanding educators who have shown a commitment to furthering student knowledge on the African slave trade, slavery in America, the vestiges of slavery in this country, and the contributions of African Americans to our society. Under this new law, school districts will submit their nominations through an application created by the Amistad Commission. Two recipients of the Amistad Commission Exemplary Award will be named by the Amistad Commission Exemplary Award Committee and will each receive an award of $2,500 in recognition of their extraordinary contributions. Additionally, each school district in which a teacher award recipient is employed will also receive an Amistad Commission Exemplary Award in the amount of $2,500. The award monies will be used to assist other teachers in the school district with the implementation of the curriculum and teaching techniques of the teacher award recipient.   

“There is no way to understand American history without learning about the struggles and triumphs of our African American community,” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation honors the incredible educators who are committed to this important mission and ensuring that future generations of students understand the realities of the slave trade, America’s history of slavery, and the rich contributions of African Americans to our nation’s story.”  

“The Amistad Commission Exemplary Award Program continues to advance the Amistad Commission’s mission in ensuring that African-American history and experiences are taught in schools across New Jersey,” said Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan. “This legislation is indicative of the support of the Amistad Commission in the work transpiring in classrooms across the State.”

“The Amistad curriculum is a highly regarded educational program that infuses the history of African-Americans, the hardships they have overcome and the important contributions they have made to society into lesson plans,” said Senator Steve Sweeney. “By honoring educators who have implemented this curriculum effectively, we are supporting an honest accounting of the shameful legacy of slavery, the rich history of African-American accomplishments and the many reasons for cultural pride.”   

“The story of America is one that was built with many people, but oftentimes this is not captured in our textbooks or taught in the curriculum. The Amistad Commission does important work towards ensuring that all of our students have a well-rounded understanding of the cultural, economic and societal impact that African-Americans have had on our nation and our state,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz.  “Every opportunity we get to applaud the efforts of teachers is meaningful. We have to take every measure possible to make sure that all of our classrooms, both in policy and in practice, are educating our students on the true story of America.”  

“Black history is American history. However, for too long, teaching this history and the history of slavery in this country was either rushed through or completely glossed over; this is why the Amistad Commission was created,” said Senator Ron Rice. “The Amistad curriculum teaches young folks about some of the darkest periods in our country’s history, and yet, also imparts on them the historical, cultural and social influence Black Americans have had on the United States. By rewarding and recognizing the efforts of some teachers who effectively educate this part of our history, we are incentivizing all educators to do the same.”  

“The development of the Amistad curriculum was a pivotal moment in New Jersey education. It is a significant tool, guiding a more well-rounded lesson in American history for students and teachers,” said Assemblymembers Mila Jasey, Shavonda Sumter, Pamela Lampitt, and Annette Quijano, in a joint statement. “The history of African-Americans, the hardships overcome and the critical contributions they have made to society is an important part of providing a full understanding of American history.  Honoring educators who have effectively and imaginatively used the Amistad curriculum in the classroom will inspire more teachers across the state in how to teach lessons on the rich history of African Americans.” 

On Overdose Awareness Day, Murphy Administration Expands Naloxone Distribution and Brings Overdose Data to Action

August 31, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced that his Administration has marked a milestone in implementing harm reduction initiatives to combat the state’s opioid crisis. The New Jersey Department of Health signed two standing orders to drastically expand access to naloxone, the lifesaving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, which will more easily enable all licensed pharmacists to dispense any form of an opioid antidote to any individual or entity without an individual prescription and allow for the distribution of naloxone by other entities like Emergency Medical Technicians after they leave the scene of an overdose.

Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Health also launched the New Jersey Overdose Data Dashboard, which displays information about naxolone administrations, substance use treatment admissions, neonatal abstinence syndrome cases, viral hepatitis cases, opioid prescriptions, and drug-related hospital visits. Data can be disaggregated by race/ethnicity, age, gender and county to allow users to identify impacted populations and monitor morbidity and mortality trends in New Jersey. Public health professionals, law enforcement, researchers, journalists, and other community members will be able to use the data to inform their opioid response strategies, conduct research, and apply for future grants. These overdose prevention measures are likely to have a dramatic impact on reducing overdose deaths in New Jersey and reaffirm Governor Murphy’s commitment to ending New Jersey’s opioid epidemic.



“While we are making incredible strides in our fight against the opioid epidemic, we must continue to expand access to harm reduction interventions,” said Governor Murphy. “We have already lost over 2,000 New Jerseyans to suspected overdoses this year, which is why it is critical to strengthen our ability to save lives by preventing overdose deaths and connecting people to supports and treatment.” 

Several agencies across the Murphy Administration continue to work collaboratively to combat the opioid crisis. The New Jersey Department of Health’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) grant supports initiatives such as the Attorney General’s Operation Helping Hands, which helps connect individuals with opioid use disorder to necessary recovery services and treatment. Under the OD2A grant, The New Jersey Department of Health continues to expand upon initiatives such as 5 Minutes to Help, a program that trains Emergency Medical Service providers to improve linkages to care for non-fatal overdose victims as well as provides trauma-informed training and support for first responders. Additionally, earlier this month, the New Jersey Department of Human Services distributed more than 24,000 doses of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to 271 law enforcement agencies across New Jersey. Human Services has also given 64,000 free doses to residents at pharmacies and previously distributed 70,000 free doses to police, EMS, homeless shelters, libraries, opioid treatment programs, opioid mobile outreach programs and re-entry organizations.

“On this day, as we honor those lives lost, those communities devasted, and those hearts broken, we take steps to protect those we love from future overdose deaths,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We have the power to stem the tide of this epidemic. Lifesaving medications such as naloxone along with powerful data tools such as New Jersey Overdose Data Dashboard will help us get to the other side.”

“Our first responders on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are uniquely positioned to distribute naloxone after responding to an overdose in the field,” said Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Dr. David Adinaro. “I am proud to sign these standing orders today that will put more naloxone in the hands of individuals who can respond to overdose – whether it be individuals at risk of overdose or their loved ones.”

“Today, as we remember our friends and family lost to drug overdoses, we also want to give hope to those struggling with addiction. Naloxone saves lives, and the path to recovery is attainable,”  Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “As always, I urge residents seeking addiction assistance to call 1-844-ReachNJ, a 24-hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week addictions help line where people facing addiction or their friends and family can get immediate assistance and support from live, New Jersey-based, trained addiction counselors. ReachNJ assists callers regardless of their insurance status. Treatment works, so please don’t hesitate to call.” 

“Every life lost to a drug overdose is one too many,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck. “Today, as we recognize and mourn the lives lost, we are taking overdose prevention measures that will undoubtedly spare other families the pain and sorrow so many are feeling today.”

For more information about the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive strategy to combat the opioid crisis view the report released earlier this year, click here.

For more information on ReachNJ, visit reachnj.gov.

To view the DOH Overdose Data Dashboard, click here.

To view the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner’s Public Data Dashboard, click here



State Grand Jury Declines to Criminally Charge Officer Involved in Fatal Police Encounter in Farmingdale on October 18, 2019

August 31, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–FARMINGDALE, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Charles Tsakiris, 38, of Farmingdale, N.J., who was fatally shot by an officer of the Howell Township Police Department on October 18, 2019. As required by statute, all fatal police encounters must be presented to a grand jury. According to available evidence, including video from a body worn camera and the statement of a civilian witness, Mr. Tsakiris advanced at the officer with a knife after the officer responded to a 911 call reporting a stabbing.

The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to 16 to 23 New Jersey residents called to serve on the grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive” issued by the Attorney General in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure that these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, and with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive. The investigation of this officer-involved shooting included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of body worn camera footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations yesterday, Aug. 30, and voted “no bill,” meaning a majority of grand jurors found the actions of the officer who shot Mr. Tsakiris were justified and no charges should be filed against him.

According to the investigation, at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2019, Lt. Anthony DeMatteo of the Howell Township Police Department responded to a call of a reported stabbing at the home of Mr. Tsakiris on Walnut Street in Farmingdale. When Lt. DeMatteo arrived, he placed his medical bag on the front steps and knocked on the door. Mr. Tsakiris opened the door with a knife in his hand. Lt. DeMatteo backed away as Mr. Tsakiris advanced on him with the knife. Lt. DeMatteo gave repeated verbal commands to Mr. Tsakiris to back up. When Mr. Tsakiris did not comply with the commands and continued to advance toward Lt. DeMatteo, Lt. DeMatteo discharged his firearm, fatally wounding Mr. Tsakiris.

Aid was given to Mr. Tsakiris by officers arriving on scene as well as emergency medical personnel. Mr. Tsakiris was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 11:02 p.m. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Teresa Oshel, 40, who also resided at the house, was found deceased in a bathroom from stab wounds. A third individual at the residence, Jeffrey Tsakiris, 36, was taken to the hospital where he was treated for stab wounds and later released.

A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.

After considering the facts, evidence, and testimony from the OPIA investigation, the state grand jury found the actions of the officer were justified. An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.

A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.

The Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website at this link:

Further information about how fatal police encounters are investigated in New Jersey under the directive is found at this link: http://www.nj.gov/oag/independent-prosecutor/


Task Force Liberty provides relief for Afghans at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

August 30, 2021

WRIGHTSTOWN, NJ (BURLINGTON)- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for up to 50,000 Afghans at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible.

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst personnel have set up Liberty Village and in the process of a Liberty Village expansion for temporary housing on the base. All branches of services from around the country have deployed at various bases including MDL in support of Task Force Liberty.


Governor Murphy on Friday signed Executive Order No. 256, establishing the Task Force on Afghan Refugee Assistance to report directly to the Office of the Governor. The task force will be chaired by Adjutant General and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) Brigadier General Dr. Lisa J. Hou and will serve to coordinate State efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the arrival of Afghan refugees and SIV holders in New Jersey.

“As Afghan refugees arrive at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, we must act to ensure that the State is prepared to adequately receive and assist these individuals that courageously assisted our country in the War on Terror,” said Governor Murphy. “Our newly established task force will oversee efforts to welcome refugees and their families to their new lives in the United States and New Jersey. I have full trust and confidence in the Adjutant General to lead this task force in coordinating our response to the ongoing arrival of refugees to our state.”

“The Task Force stands ready to support our mission partners,” said Adjutant General and DMAVA Commissioner Brigadier General Dr. Lisa J. Hou. “We recognize the sacrifice of our Afghan allies and American and NATO service members these past 20 years. We pledge every effort to alleviate the human tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan.”

Adjutant General and DMAVA Commissioner Hou is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, where she served as a field surgeon and sole medical provider on an Afghanistan National Army base and was responsible for providing routine and advanced emergency medical care in the combat theater for more than 600 coalition soldiers, contractors, and foreign nationals.

In addition to Commissioner of DMAVA, the Task Force will consist of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, the Chief Counsel to the Governor, the Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Disaster Recovery Office, and the Commissioners or other heads of the following Executive Branch departments and agencies, or their designees:

  • The Department of Law & Public Safety;
  • The New Jersey State Police;
  • The Department of Health;
  • The Department of Human Services;
  • The Department of Children & Families;
  • The Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness;
  • The Department of State;
  • The Department of Community Affairs;
  • The Department of Transportation; and
  • The Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  

The task force will be responsible for:

  • Developing a mechanism for identifying Afghan refugees who arrive in New Jersey and plan to remain for some period of time;
  • Managing internal efforts among Executive Branch departments and agencies to welcome and provide support to Afghan refugees and SIV holders as they arrive and/or resettle in New Jersey;
  • Coordinating communications with representatives of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense, regarding the relocation of Afghan refugees;
  • Overseeing the provision of vital support and emergency healthcare services for those who need it upon arrival in New Jersey, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination as needed;
  • Creating an intake mechanism for organizations and individuals seeking to provide aid and support to Afghan refugees to contact the Task Force, evaluating and keeping track of such organizations and individuals, and connecting such organizations and individuals with those in need of assistance; and
  • Providing any other necessary supports to ensure the safe entry and relocation to New Jersey of Afghan refugees.

Copy of Executive Order No. 256


The Big Red One and Fort Riley troops deploy in support of Afghan evacuees

The Department of Defense recently approved a request for assistance from the State Department to provide temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for vulnerable Afghans at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Fort Lee, Virginia.

Approximately 500service members from the 1stInfantry Division and Fort Riley will provide support to Fort McCoy, Fort Lee, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to assist in these efforts as part of the task force located there. The soldiers from Fort Riley will be joining service members from Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as part of III Corps’ overall mission, which was announced earlier this week. U.S. Northern Command is the Department of Defense’s lead combatant command for this mission in the continental United States and is providing oversight in support of the Department of State. U.S. Army North, as U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command, is the lead operational command for this mission. The task forcesat Fort McCoy, Fort Lee and JBMDL will provide housing, medical, logistics, and transportation support.

“When our Nation calls, The Big Red One and Fort Riley always answer with action; our troops are highly trained and ready to respond to any mission, anytime and anywhere,” said Lt. Col. Alex Tignor, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley spokesperson. “The Big Red One, military police, medical professionals, and logistics soldiers—men and women—deploying to these temporary housing sites are proud to join task forces U.S. Army North, U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Defense teams at Fort McCoy, Fort Lee and JBMDL in supporting the State Department with this mission.”


The Department of Defense authorized Fort Lee, Va.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Fort Pickett, Va.; and Holloman AFB, N.M. to provide temporary housing and support for vulnerable Afghans in support of Operation Allies Refuge.

The New York Air National Guard is sending 117 Airmen to assist in this mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh is sending 45 Airman.

The 106th Rescue Wing at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach is sending 33 Airmen.

The 107th Attack Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is sending 13 Airmen.

The 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia is contributing 13 Airman.

And the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse is sending 13 Airmen.













𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗝𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝘆 𝗧𝗮𝘀𝗸 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝗰𝗲 𝟭 𝗗𝗲𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗚𝘂𝗹𝗳 𝗖𝗼𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗼𝗻

August 28, 2021

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) has been activated as part of the National Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) Response System to deploy to assist with the rescue and recovery efforts resulting from soon-to-be Hurricane Ida.NJ-TF1 is deploying as a Type 3 US&R Team consisting of 45 team members, in 35 technically skilled positions, and 10 ground support personnel. The team will have a full cache of equipment allowing them to be prepared for every type of situation. NJ-TF1 is deploying to a staging area in the Gulf Coast Region. This will be the team’s ninth deployment as a FEMA US&R Team since 2016. The team has past experience in working in all types of situations, including structural collapse from 9/11, Tropicana Hotel Parking Garage Collapse, multiple hurricanes, Hackensack Parking Garage Collapse and Champlain Towers Collapse. Learn more about NJ-TF1 at https://www.njtf1.org/