Let’s not let our guard down

Let’s not let our guard down

It has almost been 10 years since our homeland was attacked on September 11, 2001. Since that time we have come a long way in making the country we live in a more secure and aware place to live. The Department of Homeland Security and the many other state and local agencies have kept our country and airspace free from attack. Our law enforcement and intelligence officers have brought our ability to gather, share, interpret and react to information to levels never before imagined, but still we have a long way to go.

Just because an attack has not happened in a long time does not mean it can not occur at any minute. Although we have countless government agencies watching the world, we as citizens of this Township need to stay vigilant. It is important not to forget that we are still at an elevated level of alert which means there continues to be a high risk of a terrorist attack here in New Jersey. A stark reminder was the May 2009 arrests of individuals planning to bomb synagogues in New York. Luckily the plans were thwarted before the operation was complete, but it shook the community into a state of high alert as many of our Teaneck neighbors know friends and relatives in that area and have close ties to those neighborhoods.

Law enforcement agencies need all citizens to be the extra set of eyes and ears in our communities. A well informed and well-engaged citizenry is a critical component of New Jersey’s homeland security strategy. It was an electronic store clerk who reported what appeared to be terrorist activity on a home video. He contacted the authorities which led to the investigation and arrest of five individuals who were planning a terrorist attack at the military base in Fort Dix, New Jersey. One person made a big contribution to all our safety.

The State of New Jersey is continuing the public awareness program, “Our most effective weapon against terrorism is you.” The campaign urges citizens to notify law enforcement either by phone or by email if they observe anything suspicious. The New York City Police Department and other city, state and federal agencies have issued similar bulletins.

What can we do?

The same level of alertness that was used to after 9/11 should still be in effect today. We ask you, members of the Teaneck community to do the following:

If you see something suspicious, notify the police department immediately. We are available 24/7 and we investigate EVERY call.

Know your neighbors and neighborhood. Look for anything out of the ordinary.

Be prepared for any emergency. This includes natural disasters. Do you have an emergency plan for your family? Do you have enough supplies to last for at least three days in your home?

Have an emergency supply kit in all your cars.

Have a predetermined place/plan to meet in case an emergency occurs while the family is apart.

Make sure your child’s school has a emergency plan that both the child and you understand. Keep a copy at home and at work so it is always available.

Know how to shelter in place or evacuate if needed.

Take a look at the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security’s web site. It has all the important information available for you to plan for any emergency: www.njhomelandsecurity.gov, or 1866-4SAFE-NJ.

The Teaneck Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert A. Wilson, is prepared to respond to any threat or emergency as we work together as a community to keep Teaneck a strong and secure place to live and work. If you have any questions or comments, you can call the Community Policing Bureau at 201-837-8759 or email at mfalvey@teaneckpolice.org.