On Saturday, September 17, 2016, the citizens of New Jersey witnessed a horrifying event as visitors to Seaside Park in Ocean County were rattled by an explosion minutes before a US Marine Corps 5K run. The series of bombings that followed in New York City and Elizabeth were a stark reminder of the very real threat we face from individuals who want to disrupt our way of life. No longer was terrorism over there; it had arrived here in our backyard.
But out of the terror came hope. From the members of the public who led Linden police to Ahmad Rahimi’s location as well as the site of other planted bombs, to the heroes who ultimately detained Rahimi at great personal risk, to the collaboration and mission focus that characterized the subsequent federal, state, and local investigation, we in New Jersey—once again—showed how resilient we are in the face of great danger.
This event, combined with the horrific shooting in Orlando and other brutal attacks abroad in 2016, reminded us that the greatest terror threat we face is from homegrown violent extremism. This is largely because the violence some individuals are committed to carrying out is so difficult for homeland security and law enforcement to detect and deter. Add to this the dramatic rise in domestic terrorism across our country from race-based, single-issue, anti-government, and religious-based extremists, particularly against law enforcement and first responders, and it is clear our threat landscape has expanded dramatically in the last year.
These circumstances dictate that the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) redouble its efforts to produce finished intelligence that informs local action, invests more personnel and resources in strategic partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels, and directly engages the public in awareness campaigns that push the “See Something, Say Something” message.
In the next year and beyond, we are committed to these actions—and as a result, the dedicated professionals at NJOHSP make this pledge to you: We will do everything we can to ensure that you and your families are safe and secure.
But we cannot fulfill this pledge alone. We need your support and partnership. We are all responsible for keeping our communities safe, so please remember—if you see something, say something by reaching out to us at 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ (866-472-3365) or e-mail email@example.com.
Dr. Christopher Rodriguez