A Letter from Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno

The New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) hosted its 2nd Annual Domestic Terrorism Conference on Monday, May 15th at Kean University.  The conference brought together academic institutions, State and Federal Agencies, local and county officials and the private sector to discuss the threats and challenges of domestic terrorism.

Domestic terrorism is certainly an issue that has changed over the course of my career in law enforcement, from time as a federal prosecutor, to Assistant Attorney General, to County Sherriff and to now, as Lt. Governor.  When I started as a federal prosecutor, law enforcement was a different game - there was no September 11th, no Oklahoma City Bombing, Boston Bombing or an ISIS threat.  It’s a completely different world out there now.

We all recognize foreign terrorist organizations — like ISIS or Al-Qaida — continue to dominate the attention of the public and the media.  And there is no question the threat will endure.  We can’t completely shield impressionable minds from violent ideologies and the hateful propaganda they’ve seen over the Internet.

According to OHSP, in 2016, domestic terrorists engaged in 22 attacks, and were responsible for an additional 17 plots, including threats of violence and incidents of weapons stockpiling.  This is up from 16 attacks and an additional 16 plots in 2015.  So we continue to see escalating threats and violence from extremists across the political and geographic landscape of the nation.  And these are folks that don’t have to travel across the world, pass through our screening or struggle to understand our culture and language.  They are here with the potential to harm their own communities. 

Last September, we witnessed a series of bomb attacks in our own backyard in Seaside and in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan.  This was carried out by an Elizabeth resident who drew inspiration from foreign terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.  It is therefore essential that all of us, Federal and local, public and private, law enforcement and academic, cooperate to understand the nature of the threat, and how to best counter it.  OHSP’s intelligence and operations staff have spent the past two years building relationships, developing subject matter expertise and following leads, in order to close the gap. 

Earlier this month, I gave the keynote address at the New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association’s Annual Conference.  There, I spoke about one of OHSP’s key Initiatives, Hometown Security, which highlights the importance of being proactive and working together, particularly with our families, our friends and our neighbors, to protect ourselves and our communities, and develop and strengthen partnerships across industries and sectors.

I also recently joined OHSP staff to highlight the availability of $1 million in SECUR-NJ grants for non-profit organizations and religious institutions determined to be at high risk of terrorist attack.  A SECUR-NJ grant will reimburse awardees for allowable costs, and the acquisition and installation of security equipment specifically to prevent and protect against terrorism, such as physical security enhancement equipment, inspection, and screening systems.  So I would encourage eligible nonprofits to apply for these grants, which are due by May 24, 2017.  For more information about these initiatives or others the OHSP has to offer, please visit www.njohsp.gov

Security is a collective responsibility.  We will not be able to stop every tragedy.  We can’t wipe away hatred and evil from every heart.  But we can - and we must - continue to work together to mitigate the risks we face here in New Jersey and beyond.


Kim Guadagno
Lt. Governor

Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Chris Rodriquez and the Lt. Governor at the Interfaith Advisory Council Meeting, March 2017
Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Chris Rodriquez and the Lt. Governor at the Interfaith Advisory Council Meeting, March 2017

Lt. Governor with Rabbi Avi Richler, Executive Director, Chabad of Gloucester County and Rabbi Hersh Loschak, Director of the Chabad @ Rowan and Chris Rodriquez
Lt. Governor with Rabbi Avi Richler, Executive Director, Chabad of Gloucester County and Rabbi Hersh Loschak, Director of the Chabad @ Rowan and Chris Rodriquez

The Lt. Governor with Rabbi Avi Richler, Executive Director, Chabad of Gloucester County and Chris Rodriquez
The Lt. Governor with Rabbi Avi Richler, Executive Director, Chabad of Gloucester County and Chris Rodriquez

 

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