Police Superintendent and Attorney General Hold Domestic Preparedness
West Trenton - State
Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes and Attorney General
Peter Harvey today held a "State of the State Police" colloquium
focused on the challenges and capabilities of the agency in
its duties regarding the state's homeland security efforts.
The meeting was an in-depth status report to legislators and
key government leaders on the readiness of New Jersey's lead
responder to terrorism. It was also an opportunity for education
and dialogue aimed at improving statewide preparedness for
disasters and major incidents.
The idea grew out of Colonel
Fuentes' travel throughout the state. "I perceived in our
state's leaders a genuine thirst for information, which is
crucial to developing a candid assessment of our state's emergency
preparedness," said the Colonel. "This meeting got us all
on the same page so we can hopefully move forward with one
set of goals and shared priorities."
Attorney General Peter Harvey
addressed the audience concerning the Domestic Preparedness
Task Force, setting the stage for five State Police experts
who outlined the programs being announced to interdict precursor
crimes that support terrorism activity.
"New Jersey has come a long
way in two years. We owe a debt of gratitude to legislators
and government officials on the federal and state level who
have focused their energies tirelessly on homeland security
and have worked to provide the tools we need," said Attorney
General Harvey. "As a result, we are measurably safer than
we were two years ago. But, we have much further to go."
Director of the Office of Counter-Terrorism,
Sid Casperson, and other state executives were also in attendance
to offer their perspectives.
Presentations to the state's
decision makers all focused on assessing the threats to public
safety in New Jersey and the capabilities of the State Police
and other responsible agencies to respond to those threats.
Some information covered included:
- The State Police Aviation Unit provided a snapshot of
current capabilities and some additional equipment needed
to respond to today's needs. The lifesaving flights of State
Police medivac helicopters are well known, but important
law enforcement and emergency management potential of helicopters
has only been scratched in the Garden State.
- Operation Safe Passage was the subject of a presentation
by the Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau. Information
on "narco-terrorism" highlighted the connection between
the illegal drug trade and domestic and/or international
terrorism. To more effectively target this threat, a partnership
approach has been implemented to seamlessly integrate State
Police resources with federal and local law enforcement,
and even private corporations. Hotels, storage facilities,
and truck/trailer rental corporations are a few private
entities regularly included as partners in large drug operations
and intelligence gathering.
- Highly organized and violent street gangs engaged in drug
distribution have been a growing source of domestic terrorism.
The State Police have taken the lead in compiling information
into a searchable database on gang activity. In the new
holistic approach to crime, the community partnerships modeled
in the successful Camden and Irvington initiatives have
supplied much of the information leading to recent raids
decapitating two notorious gangs.
- Advances in Trooper deployment were highlighted by the
Field Operations Branch. In light of the attack of September
11, 2001, contingency plans for any emergency or hazardous
event were created, which allowed a force of over 200 Troopers
to be placed in 17 cities and key locations within two hours
of the unexpected blackouts in August. The State Police
marine stations fielded seven boats during that deployment,
which was also marked by pre-planned coordination with the
National Guard and local police agencies. Deployment plans
also direct the placement of Troopers during major events
including weather emergencies, protests and large sporting
- The State Police marine stations perform numerous duties
that have grown significantly with homeland security functions.
Some of our state's most important infrastructures including
key transportation points and electric generating plants
are protected from waterborne attacks by State Police boats.
The number of Marine Unit calls for service in 2002 went
up more than 45% from 2001. Additional modern boats and
equipment are critical to the success of the expanded marine
- In preparation for cyber-terrorism attacks, the State
Police Information Technology Bureau (ITB) has taken many
steps to protect our computer systems. More systems are
being developed to monitor and protect our state's critical
infrastructures including communications, transportation
and electricity providers. The State Police is also developing
partners to form a statewide computer infrastructure protection
center to guard state networks and aid the prosecution of
- ITB is also spearheading an effort to digitize all mug
shots in the state. In the future, this database could be
coupled with facial recognition software to be searched
by DMV computers when subjects are photographed for licenses.
This could help prevent known terrorists or wanted persons
from obtaining false identification.
After the colloquium, participants
toured the State Police grounds and looked over various displays
including a medivac helicopter, the new State Police motorcycles
and equipment from the Arson-Bomb Unit. Refreshments and a
press availability were then held at the State Police Museum
and Learning Center.
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