Whether it’s stopping terrorist activity, illegal gun running or drugs, New Jersey law enforcement authorities are working together like never before.

Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said as homegrown violent extremists have become more and more of a threat, teamwork has become vital.

“The partnerships and relationships that we build to help us adapt before and after an incident happens, we put a premium on it in New Jersey. Whether it be the attorney general, the State Police command, FBI, DHS," he said. "Knowing who to call, when to call, what we’re going to be doing about it in our own lanes but then working together.”

Maples said his office connects regularly with counterparts in New York and Washington. The apprehension of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was arrested two years ago for setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York, is a good example of everyone working together and sharing intelligence to protect residents of both states.

He noted New Jersey’s Suspicious Activity Reporting System – SARS- allows everyone to work together when an incident occurs.

“It’s immediately coordinated with the State Police, the FBI and whatever local entity needs to be in the loop, and that allows us to be first preventers versus just first responders."

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says real-time communication with different departments and agencies is critical.

“We could have all the tools, we could have all the toys, we could have all the data — if we don’t talk to each other and share that data with each other, then it’s useless," Grewal said.
“If we sit on this information in our little silos, if Cape May doesn’t share with Bergen, if Bergen doesn’t share with the State Police, then we’re not effectively addressing the problem.”

Grewal said his office is now using State Police drug data to help combat the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic by targeting drug market hot-spots, expanding availability of Narcan (an overdose antidote) and helping to encourage users to go into detox.

He added they’re also sharing ballistics information with law enforcement agencies, “so if there was a shooting miss in a particular city, we want to look at that information we can draw from that shell casing and perhaps marry it up to a shooting that happened in another part of the state.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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