The FBI in New Jersey is ramping up an effort to convince New Jersey residents to report suspected hate crimes, with messaging on billboards, bus and train stations and websites.

They’re reaching out, asking members of communities for trust. But that’s easier said than done.

In many minority communities there are long standing trust issues with all branches of law enforcement, and some residents are hesitant to come forward to report anything.

In response, George Crouch, the special agent in charge of the FBI in New Jersey, has reached out to community and faith leaders looking to form partnerships with them and help convince skeptics the FBI is trustworthy and really does want to help them and crack down on hate crimes.

Crouch said in order to be able to stop hate crimes from being committed, people have to feel safe reporting them.

The effort seems to be working.

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Ralina Cardona, the vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, is now encouraging unauthorized immigrants in New Jersey who may be reluctant to come forward to report hate crimes, because they fear they could wind up being deported, to share any hate crime information they are aware of.

“While we will have our dialogue with the FBI directly we can be that bridge to our community and allow that trust to be formed,” she said.

Pastor John Taylor of the Trenton Capital City Community Coalition said it’s imperative to end discrimination and hatred among different ethnic and religious groups and embrace change.

“We’re working with the FBI, the FBI is working with us. It’s important for us to be in our communities, get this message out: You can call and get in contact with law enforcement,” he said.

Bishop Jethro James, a founding member of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Interfaith Advisory Council said “working together works better than working separately, and so we’re saying trust us and we trust the FBI and all law enforcement, we encourage you, talk to somebody.”

Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the executive vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, said he considers it a privilege to work with the FBI on this kind of campaign because by reporting we give “the constant drip of hate crimes that are unfortunately present in our communities the attention they deserve and the response they need so they will be stopped.”

Gary Paul Wright, the executive director of the African American Office of Gay Concerns said the report hate crime campaign is important.

“We face homophobia, transphobia, like almost every day of our lives so that the FBI is partnering with us, to bring some of our issues up front, that’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “The fact that the FBI is now on our side, this is going to make us feel a little safer, especially for Black women and trans women of color.”

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