As the holiday shopping season gets underway homeland security officials in New Jersey have ramped up surveillance protocols but they won’t discuss specifics.

“We view this holiday season a little differently than other parts of the year, primarily because there’s a significantly larger increase in mass gatherings,” said Laurie Doran, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

She pointed out that “mass gatherings remain an attractive target for both domestic extremists and foreign terrorists.”

Who poses the biggest NJ threat?

She said there are no known credible threats right now, however, “homegrown violent extremists and white racially motivated extremists continue to use the holiday season and associated celebrations to inspire their supporters and conduct violence.”

When asked what type of surveillance has been increased she replied, “I really can’t give you much in the way of details with regard to what we do from an operational standpoint on mitigation efforts other to say that we are very cognizant of that.”

Doran pointed out that when crowds come together it helps to create “a more challenging threat environment. For example, the shopping centers are packed with people shopping, people are doing a variety of different religious services and indoor and outdoor ceremonies that draw a lot of crowds.”

NicoElNino ThinkStock
NicoElNino ThinkStock
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What about online holiday shopping?

She said at this time of year cyber hygiene is also particularly important, which means don’t click on links in emails you aren’t expecting, and also be aware that with “traditional black Friday, cyber Monday sales rolling out that a lot of cyber criminal groups are going to be on the lookout to try and exploit consumers and retail organizations for financial gain.”

She said that means you should be “avoiding public computers and public wifi even though I know it makes things very convenient, it also is a very convenient way for people to try and steal your information.”

She said to respond to any threat that develops partnerships with a variety of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the Garden State are strong and effective.

Courtesy NJOHSP
Courtesy NJOHSP
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Doran added suspicious activity messaging is being amplified throughout the holiday season to remind members of the public to report anything odd or suspicious as quickly as possible.

“It sounds like it’s the same old thing but we really are just trying to have people keep focus,” said Doran, “because they are our first line of defense.”

You can also review NJOHSP’s 15 signs of suspicious activity here.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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