Acting AG Platkin Announces Availability of $17 Million in Grants to Reduce Gun Violence and Combat Auto Theft in New Jersey

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that the Department of Law & Public Safety is making $17 million in grant funding available to acquire and expand technology to reduce gun violence and combat a rise in auto thefts fueling violent crime in New Jersey, using federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

The Department is now accepting applications from New Jersey law enforcement agencies for these grant funds, as described in the Notices of Availability of Funds (NOAFs) that the Department is releasing to the public today. Money is available through two separate, competitive grant programs: a $7 million fund to acquire or expand existing gunshot detection technology, and a $10 million fund to acquire or expand existing Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology to combat a spike in vehicle thefts believed to be driving more serious, violent crime in New Jersey.

Both programs are aimed at providing law enforcement agencies with money to invest in technology-driven strategies to reduce violent crime, make communities safer, and save lives.

“Thanks to Governor Murphy, we are equipping New Jersey law enforcement agencies with the sophisticated tools they need to keep our residents safe,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “New Jersey has been proven to be a national leader in violence reduction efforts, and that includes holding accountable criminals who perpetrate gun violence and auto theft. By providing law enforcement with these resources, we are supporting the essential work they do day in and day out to safeguard communities and protect New Jerseyans.”

“The allocation of these grants to increase the use of automated license plate reader and gunshot detection technology will undoubtedly aid our policing and investigative capabilities.” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Access to these resources will help combat the growing number of motor vehicle thefts and expand access to technology aimed at reducing gun violence. I commend Governor Murphy and Acting Attorney General Platkin for their efforts in supporting law enforcement’s mission to making our communities safer across New Jersey.”

ARP grants are available to state, local, and Tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Violent crime is recognized as a public health challenge exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants made available today are open to all law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in New Jersey that serve communities demonstrating an increase in violent crime, gun violence and/or auto theft. The $7 million in funding for gunshot detection technology will be made available for the purchase or enhancement of a fully integrated network of three distinct systems, including acoustic detectors, video management technology, and automatic license plate readers. When combined, these systems allow first responders to more quickly render lifesaving medical aid to victims of gun violence and assist law enforcement in identifying shooters, leading to faster apprehension and reduced instances of retaliatory violence.

The ALPR grant funding will be used to purchase and expand existing high-speed, automated camera systems to capture and store computer-readable images of license plates in a centralized database accessible to law enforcement. The technology will be installed at both fixed locations throughout New Jersey and mounted on mobile units.

Through the $10 million ALPR program, a portion of the funding will be allocated to the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) to deploy units along major roadways that run throughout the state. Intelligence gathered will be shared by NJSP in real-time through the Regional Operations Intelligence Center and Real Time Crime Centers operated by the NJSP with relevant law enforcement partners as appropriate for investigative and operational need.

New Jersey, under the Murphy Administration, is leading a comprehensive statewide effort to reduce violent crime and gun deaths. These efforts include:

  • Enacting firearms public nuisance legislation (P.L.2022, c.56) authorizing the Attorney General to bring lawsuits against gun industry members that knowingly or recklessly contribute to a public nuisance in New Jersey through unlawful or unreasonable conduct, or that fail to maintain reasonable controls, relating to their sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing, or marketing of gun-related products.
  • Creating a Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Office – a first-in-the-nation office with the specific mandate of bringing civil enforcement actions against firearm companies to hold them accountable for violations of the law that harm the health and safety of New Jersey residents.
  • Bringing criminal charges against those who illegally transport untraceable “ghost guns” into New Jersey. For example, in October, a Morris County man was indicted for transporting “ghost gun” kits from Pennsylvania to New Jersey with the intent to manufacture illegal untraceable firearms without the serial numbers mandated by state and federal law to allow law enforcement to trace the weapons.
  • Creating a statewide “Gun Violence Reduction Task Force” in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the NJSP, and all 21 County Prosecutor’s Office.
  • Building the country’s most comprehensive statewide database on “crime guns” within the NJSP, creating an invaluable tool for criminal investigators seeking to trace illegal firearms to their source.
  • Investing $20 million in the current and prior state fiscal years for community-based violence intervention programs.
  • Providing $10 million in ARP dollars to bolster the state’s existing and innovative $20 million hospital-based violence intervention program.

Applications are due by October 15, 2022, and the grant period will begin on or about December 1, 2022 and run through November 30, 2024.

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