Anti-Semitic drawings under an ongoing investigation


The swastikas found throughout Pascack Valley have been under investigation by the Hillsdale Police Department since September. The investigation is being conducted by Student Resource Officer Mike Camporeale and Detective Sgt. Adam Hampton.

There is an ongoing police investigation regarding the five swastikas and other forms of hate speech found by students and staff throughout Pascack Valley. The investigation began on Sept. 27 after the first anti-Semitic drawing was discovered in the boys bathroom on the second floor. 

The Smoke Signal broke the news of the anti-Semitic drawings after attending a Board of Education meeting where the topic was brought into discussion by parents to the Pascack Valley Regional High School District Superintendent Erik Gundersen.

The Hillsdale Police Department was contacted by administration to begin this investigation. PV Student Resource Officer Mike Camporeale and Detective Sgt. Adam Hampton are conducting the investigation, however Hampton was unavailable to comment.

Since this is an active investigation, Camporeale could not legally tell The Smoke Signal various details regarding the incidents.

“If you look up similar incidents, not even in the area, but across the country, anti-Semitism has been going on,” Camporeale said. “It’s usually two to three people [committing the acts]. Very rarely it is just one person.”

Camporeale is uncertain if the incidents were committed by one person or multiple people since the investigation has not yet been solved.

Once they are caught, the perpetrator or perpetrators will be charged with both criminal mischief and a form of a hate crime. Camporeale said that the type of biased crime depends on “what they say once caught” and “why they say they did it.”

With the pressed charges, Camporeale and Hampton will develop a case that will be moved to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office where the judge of the case will decide the penalty.

“In the country, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Camporeale said. “If you get charged with a crime, even including a speeding ticket, you’re not guilty until you either say you’re guilty or a judge finds you guilty. We [the police] write a charge with x, y, and z.”

According to Camporeale, the tool used to mark these etchings could range from a knife, pen, or pencil since “the bathroom stalls are very easy to carve.” He believes that it was most likely carved with a pen from what he could gauge from the depth of the etchings.

“Like any other investigation, we have to put together a case,” Camporeale said. “In the police world, it’s not what you know, it’s what can be proved.”