LAKEWOOD — Both volunteers and law enforcement are maintaining a stronger presence in this township following a string of potential bias incidents in other communities with large Jewish populations.

According to the police department and a group of civilian enforcers, there's been no specific threat to Lakewood since two assailants opened fire and killed three people inside a kosher supermarket in Jersey City on Dec. 10. But news of a stabbing two weeks ago at a Hanukkah celebration in New York recharged efforts to be "more vigilant."

"We've increased visits to our shuls, churches and synagogues," said Lt. Leroy Marshall, of the Lakewood Police Department. "We just want to let our residents know that their safety is paramount."

In light of recent events, Marshall said, concern among Lakewood's Jewish community has increased. But he was not aware of any recent incidents in the township targeting Jewish individuals or their property.

Simply the presence of "more eyes" acts as a deterrent against criminal activity, Marshall noted. He cited a "good working relationship" with volunteer organizations such as the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch.

"It's definitely a hand-in-hand relationship where we supplement their eyes and ears on the street," said Osher Perlow with LCSW, which has around 50 active volunteers at any given time. "We come to bridge the gap because a lot of times people are afraid to call law enforcement."

Perlow said the group, too, has increased its visual presence in the township. It typically tries to give equal coverage to all parts of Lakewood, he said, but they're paying special attention to any religion-centers gatherings or events.

"If anything is out of place, we turn that information over to the police and let them do their work," he said.

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