Ocean County, NJ Prosecutor says biggest challenge for law enforcement is division people have for each other
We live in a society where judgement of others takes place in more than just a courtroom, it occurs in schools, businesses, social media, and anywhere people have turned off the light switch to their good hearts and become shadowed with an intolerance for others.
People take sides be it politics, how and who you vote for, what kind of food you make, or something else like it's a group of 6th graders trying to figure out who to put on their kickball team at recess.
If you have a different opinion than someone, certain people in society will scrutinize you for feeling a different.
If someone is devout in their faith, they are judged and made fun of, if someone has a different religion, they are judged and mocked as well.
There are so many examples of hate and division that mirror what storm clouds look like just when it's about to pour.
"Somebody asked me, what's the biggest challenge that law enforcement faces, and I honestly think, it's division," Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer tells Townsquare Media News. "Right now, the culture is that we're so fascinated with picking sides and who's on what team and who's on the other side and you're not on my team -- and as I go around the state and I go around the county -- we have a tremendous amount of community outreach and we try to get in with our faith leaders, we try to be at barbecues and founders days and town picnics -- what I find is that are citizens are more alike than they are not alike, we have more in common than we have not in common."
There has been such a rise in recent years of hate crimes and bias incidents statewide with Ocean County near the top in New Jersey.
"There's such a stigma related around bias incidents and in New Jersey, statewide, we have had a 400-percent increase in the last six-years -- that's an alarming rate," Billhimer said.
The OCPO has put together a number of campaigns with the message of standing up to hate and loving thy neighbor.
One of the ways they've reached out to the communities in Ocean County is by visiting schools.
"We go to the elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and the thing that I notice, in elementary schools, is that the kids are more pure, they don't have any hate for anybody," Billhimer said. "What we're seeing is that hate is a learned trait and something that they're developing over time. I think that if we can try and educate our kids, through the school system, I think we're all going to be in a better position."
One of the reasons, small part, for the rise in bias incidents is the fact that more people are starting to report them.
"We want people to report them so that we can investigate them and so that we can develop the data that we need," Billhimer said. "Once somebody is in the system for a bias incident, than we know that there's a certain predilection towards that behavior and we can track that. We want people to come forward, and it's not always easy, I think people are reticent to come forward because they're afraid of retaliation."
Look inside your soul and you'll find the childlike innocence and love for fellow man is in there and wants to help make people happy.
You can listen to the full conversation Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer had with myself and Dave Crossan on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on Sunday on 94.3ThePoint and 105.7TheHawk, by going right here.