Officials meet with Homeland Security
By Laura D'Onofrio
ENGLEWOOD — The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) holds meetings all around the state to inform cities and enhance relationships with local officials. Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes met with the director, Richard Canas, at City Hall to discuss Englewood's preparedness in the event of major calamity and catastrophic planning.
Canas' presentation highlighted that Englewood, and Bergen County, is located in the highest risk area in the nation. Englewood is part of what is called an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). Bergen, Morris, Union, Passaic, Essex, Hudson and Middlesex counties plus Jersey City and Newark are part of the UASI and are considered at greatest risk for terrorist attack.
Photo courtesy of Mayor Michael Wildes
Deputy Director of the Division of Operation, State of NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Drew F. Lieb, Director of the State of N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Richard L. Canas, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes and Englewood Police Chief Arthur O'Keefe meet to discuss Englewood's preparedness in the event of a major calamity, record management system and catastrophic planning.
Wildes, Deputy Director of Division of Operations Drew Lieb, Chief of Police Arthur O'Keefe and Canas attended the meeting.
"OHSP dealt with significant issues that specifically affect Englewood — our school security, houses of worship and regional locale. There are regional vulnerabilities because of our locale — proximity to the World Trade Center site, a nuclear power plant and Port Authority," Wildes said. "We discussed catastrophic planning, especially because of the un-preparedness we learned from Hurricane Katrina."
Wildes is most concerned with the schools and houses of worship in Englewood.
"I requested briefing in regards to public and private schools, director indicated that educators have limited experience and feel all they have to do is dial 911, this is a point of vulnerability the state has," the mayor said. "The office mandated that 150,000 teachers meet to train to be better prepared for lock downs and other responses to security risks."
There are 52 houses of worship in Englewood, including significant synagogues, churches and a mosque. Canas explained that the threat level is always on alert with regard to synagogues.
"Just a study of the attack in Mumbai indicated that terrorists were looking to cause pain on Jewish groups, hospitals and hotels. This means they are capable of planing diverse and simultaneous attacks. Clearly Englewood needs to meet this head-on and be one step ahead," said Wildes.
Officials plan to work to fortify the record management system of Englewood by increasing resources and support. Englewood has people who can assist in writing more creative grant requests to bring new computers and cars, and funding for more emergency services, according to Mayor Wildes.
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes For Mayor, Assemblyman Arnold Brown, Treasurer
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