New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, along with several panelists, will be addressing the variety of services available to victims and survivors of abuse during the COVID-19 epidemic on Wednesday, in the first of a four-part series of virtual town hall meetings.


Grewal announced the series a year ago, called “21 County, 21st Century Community Policing,” or “21/21” for short, with the purpose to focus on promoting stronger police-community relations by bringing together law enforcement and the community. The meetings were expected to take part face-to-face in a round-table discussion, but due to the current health crisis, they have been moved to a virtual setting.


The first town hall, expected to run roughly an hour, will take place at noon on Wednesday and is open to the public. Those wishing to connect are asked to register here: register.gotowebinar.com/register/9160711275454323724. Once registered, attendees will receive an emailed confirmation with instructions on how to connect to the town hall.


Featured panelists will include Elizabeth Ruebman, special advisor for victims services in the Attorney General’s Office. As part of her role in the office, Ruebman, a victims advocate, reviews claims compensation, support services and prosecution of criminals. Also included will Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a statewide advocacy that offers 22 sexual violence programs across the state, and Pamela Jacobs, the executive director of the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, an advocacy striving to end domestic violence through education, public awareness, and legislative advocacy.


According to a release by the state Attorney General’s Office, the panelists will share useful information about a broad array of resources available to victims, including ways to connect to those resources during the health crisis. While the COVID-19 outbreak has caused the suspension of many “walk-in” services, Grewal stated that many services are just a phone call, or text message, away.


While social distancing measures are in place, people who are in a crisis or being victimized are not being forgotten, Grewal said.


“Victims should not assume that access to services is restricted because of social distancing, or that people are too consumed with COVID-related issues to help them,” Grewal stated. “Please do not suffer in silence.”


Members of the public who register are given information via a confirmation email on how to ask questions of the panelists.


The next town hall meeting, the second in the series, will take place at 4 p.m. April 30. The meeting will address law enforcement’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Grewal will be joined by State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan, among other officials.


Those wishing to participate in the April 30 Town Hall session can register at: attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6908093425223058444.


The remaining town hall sessions will be held in May and will focus on recovery and addiction services and fraud. Those registration details will be forthcoming.


For more information about “21/21” project and Wednesday’s town hall, visit https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases20/pr20200420a.html.


Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.