To All Monmouth County Residents & Visitors:
The world we live in has changed probably forever. The horror that befell the innocents in the World Trade Center keenly affected us all. While the tragedy brought with it a new sense of American vulnerability, it also renewed our appreciation of the freedoms that we all enjoy and hold dear and rekindled the American spirit. We are now faced with new dangers, but we are a great people and will rise to the task and acquit ourselves just as Americans have always done in times of crisis. As before, we will not face these challenges alone, but as a nation galvanized by our common history, democratic ideals, compassion and enduring optimism. In other words, the safety of each of us, has become the responsibility of all us.
National Homeland Security Advisory System
To insure that the public is “vigilant, prepared, and ready to deter terrorist attacks”, President Bush signed the “Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3”, which created the Homeland Security Advisory System.
The Homeland Security Advisory System is designed to provide a means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to all levels of government and to the American people. The threat conditions are graduated, i.e. the higher the threat condition, the greater the risk of terrorist attacks.
There are five levels of threat conditions: Severe (Red), High (Orange), Elevated (Yellow), Guarded (Blue) and Green (Low). All are detailed below.
RED: SEVERE CONDITION
A severe condition reflects a severe risk of terrorist attack. Under most circumstances, the protective measures for a severe condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, government departments and agencies also will consider the following general measures:
- Assign emergency response and mobilize specially trained teams and resources.
- Increase or redirect personnel to address critical emergency needs.
- Monitor, redirect, or constrain transportation systems
- Close public or government facilities not critical for continuity of essential operations.
In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, members of the public should implement the following protective measures:
- Avoid public gathering places such as sports arenas, holiday gatherings, or other high risk locations.
- Contact employers to determine status of work.
- Listen to the radio and watch television for possible advisories and warnings.
- Prepare to shelter in place or evacuate if instructed by public officials.
- Obey any restrictions and directions put in place by local, county, state and federal officials.
ORANGE: HIGH RISK
A high condition is declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, government departments and agencies will consider the following protective measures:
- Coordinate necessary security efforts with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, National Guard or armed forces.
- Take additional precautions at public events and gatherings.
- Prepare to execute contingency procedures, such as moving to an alternate site or dispersing the workforce.
- Restrict access to a threatened facility to essential personnel.
In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, the public should consider the following general protective measures;
- Review preparedness measures for potential terrorist actions including chemical, biological and radiological attacks.
- Avoid high profile or symbolic locations.
- Exercise caution when traveling.
- Remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity to authorities.
YELLOW: ELEVATED CONDITION
An elevated condition is declared when there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, government departments and agencies will consider the following protective measures:
- Increased surveillance of critical locations.
- Coordinate emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions as appropriate.
- Assess whether the precise characteristics of the threat requires the further refinement of prearranged protective measures.
In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat conditions below, members of the public should consider the following protective measures:
- Be observant of any suspicious activity and report it to authorities. Suspicious activity should be reported to your municipal police department, The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office of Homeland Security at 732/ 431-7020 or the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness through a toll free, 24 hour Terrorist Hotline at 1 866/ 472-3365.
- Contact neighbors to discuss their emergency plans and needs.
- Determine where area shelters may be established if the need arises.
- If you have school aged children, check with school officials to determine their plans for an emergency and procedures to reunite children with parents or caregivers.
- Update your household disaster plan, disaster kit, communication and evacuation plan.
BLUE: GUARDED CONDITION
This condition is declared when there is a general risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat condition below, government departments and agencies will consider the following protective measures:
- Check communications with designated emergency response or command locations.
- Review and update emergency response procedures.
- Provide the public with any information that would strengthen its ability to act appropriately.
In addition to the protective measures detailed in the threat condition below, members of the public should consider the following additional protective measures:
- Review your household disaster plan.
- Review your evacuation plan.
- Update your household disaster supply kit.
- Hold a household meeting reviewing and discussing what family members would do and how they would communicate in the event of an incident.
- Apartment residents should discuss with building managers the steps to be taken during an emergency.
- People with special needs should discuss their emergency plans with family, friends and employers.
GREEN: LOW CONDITION
This condition is declared when there is a low risk of terrorist attacks. Government departments and agencies will consider the following protective measures.
- Refine and exercise prearranged protective measures.
- Ensure personnel receive proper training on the Homeland Security Advisory System and specific prearranged department or agency protective measures.
- Institute a process to assure that all facilities and regulated sectors are regularly assessed for vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, and all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate these vulnerabilities.
The public should consider the following general protective measures:
- Develop a household disaster plan, and then practice this plan with your family and household members.
- Assemble and maintain an “emergency supply kit” for sheltering in place. At the minimum this kit should include the following: Three day’s supply of food and water for each family (household) member, a battery operated radio and flashlight with extra batteries for each, a first aid kit and necessary medications, personal toiletries, a non-electric can opener and utensils, special needs items for infants, elderly and pets.
- In case you need to evacuate develop an evacuation plan. Know your evacuation route by contacting your municipal emergency management coordinator, keep your vehicle fueled, have family (household) members carry contact (communication) information for each other. If you do not drive make plans with family members, neighbors, or contact your municipal emergency management coordinator for details on the evacuation plans for transit dependent individuals or if you are disabled with special needs.
- Stay informed by learning more regarding emergency alerts from local radio and televisions stations.
- Learn more regarding emergency preparedness from the following resources; The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management web site- www.state.nj.us/njoem/, The United States Department of Homeland Security web site- www.ready.gov, The American Red Cross web site- www.redcross.org, The Federal Emergency Management Agency web site- www.fema.gov, or by contacting your municipal emergency management coordinator or the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management at 732/ 431-7400.
What All This Means
At all times since the inception of the Advisory System, Monmouth County public safety agencies and local police departments have adjusted, adapted, planned, and taken various protective measures for the safety of the citizens of and visitors to Monmouth County in accordance with the current threat condition level. This has been accomplished without significant disruption of our way of life. But what if the threat level were raised to Severe (Red)?
A Severe (Red) threat condition may only result in precautionary measures being taken in a particular area or site. For instance, a specific imminent threat to Atlantic City will result in protective measures being taken there, but may not, and probably will not, necessitate a restriction on activities in Monmouth County.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office sometimes receives inquiries concerning what actions will be taken should the threat level be raised to Severe (Red). A New Jersey Severe (Red) threat condition level will go into effect in the event of an imminent attack or actual attack that directly affects New Jersey. The following are some of the actions and precautionary measures that may be employed in such an event:
- Measures taken will be specific to the site of attack or possible attack, and the nature of the State and local response will be dictated accordingly. The announcement of a Severe (Red) threat level following an incident would probably result in a State of Emergency being declared with instructions to the public being given via local radio and television.
- The New Jersey Department of Education will immediately communicate with local districts to inform them of the situation, and to ensure that the local districts are moving forward with their emergency response plans.
- The New Jersey Department of Education is already in close communication with our State’s Office of Emergency Management to ensure that accurate information is continually provided through the Department of Education to school districts. Additionally, The Monmnouth County Office of Emergency Management is in around-the-clock contact with the State Emergency Operating Center.
- Threat notification will simultaneously be transmitted to all police chiefs in Monmouth County via the National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (NLETS). At the same time, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office will rebroadcast the warnings through its Office of Homeland Security and the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management. This type of redundant communication will insure that the public receives appropriate and immediate direction on what to do.
- For the district or districts where Severe (Red) threat level measures are implemented, local school superintendents and emergency management officials will decide the best course of action to take to insure that our children are protected. In an extreme situation, this may result in a district deciding to keep students indoors during school hours. Another possibility would be sending students home to be with their families.
- To insure the effective coordination of emergency services, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office of Homeland Security will be in immediate contact with the Municipal Counter-Terrorism Coordinators of local police agencies in the affected areas.
The Homeland Security Office of the Prosecutor’s Office and Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management are in constant contact with the New Jersey State Police Emergency Operating Center and Counter-Terrorism Unit, the New Jersey State Office of Counter-Terrorism, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Every municipal police department has a terrorism coordinator designated by the Chief. All departments are kept apprised of developing threats. As noted above, their mission is to protect the citizens of New Jersey and Monmouth County.
Preparedness brings with it the possibility of inconvenience. In the event a Severe (Red) threat condition level is declared the State may restrict transportation and access to critical locations in certain circumstances. The restrictions, however, will be specific to a particular site or area. You may be called upon to produce identification or other documentation or be prevented from traveling to or through an area altogether. We can only ask for your cooperation and patience should this occur. The inconvenience may save your life or the lives of others.
Additional information about New Jersey Homeland Security can be found at:
If you have questions concerning New Jersey Homeland Security please contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Homeland Security Office at (732) 431-7020.
Together, we can and will secure the safety and well being of the people of Monmouth County.
Note: This safety tip is courtesy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.