Are you heading down the shore this weekend?

As the summer season gets under way up and down the Jersey coast, state Homeland Security officials are ramping up efforts to keep everybody safe — whether you’re on the beach, on the boardwalk or enjoying a concert.

Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the second annual “Secure the Shore” initiative has been launched, to make sure local coastal communities are reducing risks and vulnerabilities to protect visitors for various activities and events.

“There’s been an uptick in attacks on mass gatherings, places where large groups of people gather, and we need to be prepared,” he said.

Maples stressed the idea is to be first-preventers as well as first-responders.

“So we’re trying to get one message out, making sure that people are aware in the community and local law enforcement, of what to watch out for, what those threats look like, and what they can do to mitigate those risks," Maples said.

He said his office, the State Police and the FBI are helping municipalities in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May strengthen security in a variety of ways, including limiting vehicle access near beaches and concert venues, and by having a law enforcement presence at concerts and festivals as well.

Maples said teams from his office have been meeting with local shore officials to discuss how best to improve security, and explain “this is what we’re doing about it, this is what you can do about it, and this is how we can all work together to mitigate and prevent an attack here in New Jersey.”

He said assessments are being made in different areas about how to improve surveillance to keep everyone safe.

“I don’t want to get too far into the specifics to tip off the bad guys, but I will tell you that we identify potential gaps in security posture and what they can do to enhance and make sure those gaps are filled," Maples said.

"There’s no such this as a 100 percent in this game, unfortunately,  but we do everything we possibly can to get out ahead, and really make sure those targets are hardened.”

He said state officials want New Jersey residents to know "our beaches are open, they are safe, they are secure — that’s part of our job and we’re on it.”

He also stressed if you are down the shore and every see something that seems odd or out of place, you should always call 911 or 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ right away.

Live action from the beach at Belmar, New Jersey, courtesy of NJBeachCams.com.

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