New Jersey security officials are urging individuals and businesses to develop an active shooter response plan.

Laurie Doran, the acting director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said that while most of our attention has been focused on the COVID pandemic, it’s also important to be prepared for a possible incident involving an armed intruder because these types of situations can and do take place.

She said there is no specific or credible threat right now, but all businesses, no matter how large or small, should have a plan to deal with this kind of emergency, and give workers a chance to conduct active shooter drills.

“I think about it as if you have a fire drill, remember all of us in school doing that, it’s kind of the same thing, having drills to prepare for a worst-case eventuality,” she said.

She noted it’s also a good idea for companies to consider installing a security alert system, “things like a panic button or a strobe light in a noisy area are ways to alert individuals to threats.”

Doran said if you are in any location where an active shooter scenario suddenly starts to unfold “if possible, running away should always be your first response, if that isn’t possible, hide if you can.”

She stressed fighting back should be the last option “because not everybody is prepared to fight against an armed assailant, it’s the last resort.”

She pointed out if somebody goes into any location with a gun there’s a good chance they may not be thinking clearly.

“People who generally do this type of unfortunate activity have some things going on emotionally in their head and it’s unpredictable,” she said.

The bottom line, said Doran, is it’s always important for all Jersey residents to maintain a degree of vigilance.

“Hust to kind of keep an eye out, so you’re aware of what’s going on around you, whether there’s some people perhaps conducting some weird activity, or if you see some other things perhaps that look threatening,” she said.

“If it doesn’t feel right to you, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, you know most people have a feeling if something is not quite right, report it to a security officer or the police.”

Doran said while the state Education Department conducts these kinds of drills in schools, NJOHSP can provide training suggestions to groups and businesses and assist in doing security assessments.

She also suggested businesses contact local law enforcement so they can become familiar with their physical layouts, and also to find out what the law enforcement response plan is, so everyone can work together.

She said the reality is these types of unpredictable and dangerous incidents do occur, and it’s important for everyone to be ready, just in case.

Doran said a new public service announcement about active shooter threats has been produced for school kids. She also stressed you can always report any suspicious activity at 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or visit the NJOHSP website to get active shooter tips.

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

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.