Homeland Security Conference Held at Monmouth [AUDIO]
More than 400 law enforcement, homeland security, and emergency management professionals gathered Thursday on the campus of Monmouth University for an annual conference from the Christie Administration.
This year's event, themed "Changing Environments in Homeland Security," focused on the new challenges facing officials; topics included New Jersey's ports and rail systems, enhancing security in cyberspace and new trends in protecting critical infrastructure sites throughout the Garden State.
"Over the last 11 years, obviously since 9/11, the threat environment has changed," said state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Edward Dickson.
He noted terror threats and actions are not only originating beyond the country's borders. Domestic terrorism has been a growing concern over recent years.
Dickson said cyberterrorism should no longer be considered an "emerging" threat. It's already a major player as Americans rely so heavily on cyberspace to conduct their businesses, governments and daily lives.
Another theme of the day could be determined just by looking at the guest list. Those in attendance included professionals from various federal, state and local government agencies, as well as representatives from numerous private sector organizations.
"By bringing together public and private sector partners to discuss the new challenges facing our collective mission, we enhance our ability to make our state safer and stronger," Dickson said.
State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said incorporation of the private sector in preparedness planning is crucial because the majority of New Jersey's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private entities.
Chiesa took over Governor Chris Christie's role as keynote speaker of the event. He credited the state for its accomplishments in information sharing, calling New Jersey a "model state" for communication between agencies.
"All I've ever seen is collaborative efforts," he added. "All I've ever seen is trying to get to the right result."
He said information sharing will continue to be a paramount issue for the Governor and himself, as part of the Administration's ongoing commitment to making New Jersey safer and more secure.
Enhancing public messaging was also discussed at the conference.