Law Enforcement Hosts Annual National Coming Out Day & Community Fest

Published on October 12, 2023

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Morris County Sheriff’s Office hosted the third annual Morris County National Coming Out Day and the second annual Community Unity Festival: Combat Bias, Hate & Violence. The events were held on Saturday, October 7, 2023, on Bishop Nazery Way, and sponsored by EDGE (end discrimination gain equality), GAAMC (Gay Activist Alliance), SAGE (Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ+ Elders), Veterans Administration New Jersey Healthcare System/Community Engagement, and Atlantic Health.

National Coming Out Day is coordinated to encourage and support LGBTQ+ individuals to “come out,” and is the unconditional commitment by law enforcement to build bridges with the LGBTQ+ community.  The event was also intended to educate the community about bias crimes and the law. There was music, as well as food and beverages provided at no charge, to foster interaction between law enforcement and those in attendance. 

Welcome remarks were given by Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll on behalf of the MCPO, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Morris County leadership. Other recognized persons included: MCPO Detective Supervisor and LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer Stephanie Merced; Morris County Sheriff’s Office Investigator and LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer Ashley Craig; New Jersey State Police Lieutenant and LGBTQ+ Liaison John Hayes; and Middlesex County Corrections Chief Investigator David D’Amico. Also attending were State Investigator Sam Aboud of the NJ Division of Criminal Justice; Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, who spoke on behalf of Senator Anthony Bucco and herself; and representatives of several municipal police departments including Morristown PD, Morris Plains PD, Parsippany-Troy Hills PD, as well as Chief Michael Koroski representing the Morris County Police Chief’s Association.

Opening prayers were said by Pastor Lance A. Mann of the Union Baptist Church of Morristown and concluding prayers for peace were given by Rabbi Moshe Rudin of Congregation Adath Shalom.

Prosecutor Carroll stated, “We trust that through this event, we reinforce the message that law enforcement welcomes all to our profession, regardless of religious beliefs, gender selection, race, age, and social and economic status. To be effective and protective, law enforcement should reflect the community it serves. Today’s event specifically recognizes the ongoing progress over stigmas and implicit and explicit discrimination that have challenged so many in the LGTBQ+ community for too long. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and our police departments are pleased to lead the fight against any systemic discrimination in all forms.”

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “On Saturday, the Community Unity Festival was held in Morristown in conjunction with National Coming Out Day.  The event was focused on celebrating unity in the community and bringing awareness to bias crimes while combating hate and violence in our communities.  I want to ensure the strong bond of trust that exists between the Sheriff’s Office as a law enforcement agency and the LGBTQ+ community remains strong.”

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