Jersey City first responders participated in an active shooter drill at the City Hall Annex this morning in wake of last week’s mass shooting in Buffalo.
“We hire an outside company of expert police, military people, they come in and they devise scenarios for us that our officers do not know what the scenario is … So they’ll devise a scenario based on actual events that have happened in other parts of the country,” explained Public Safety Director James Shea.
“The scenario will begin and they’ve already made sure our officers don’t have live weapons, we do training exercises, the safety protocols are already in place and then they’ll grade our officers, responders, our fire department, rescue task force, our medical people: they’ll be graded on how they do in these scenarios.”
The scenario involved a gunman infiltrating the annex and injuring innocent bystanders before police shot and detained him on the second floor.
Law enforcement then did a sweep of the building to ensure no other shooters were involved, as well as to ensure all civilians were able to exit safely.
The entire exercise, which the city had previously done at New Jersey City University and St. Peter’s Prep prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, took about 25 minutes before they set up for another situational training exercise.
Prior to the event getting underway, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Council President Joyce Watterman, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, and Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore joined Shea and other public safety officials to address the media.
“In ’13 going into ’14, Director Shea and I made a commitment to more modernize the police department and think about the challenges police departments in cities face today and that entailed a lot of different new aspects to the JCPD hierarchy, equipment, and training,” the mayor said.
“So over the last couple years, we’ve modernized the police department, invested a tremendous amount in training and this is just another part in that investment in training.”
Fulop added that Tomahawk Solutions Security has been a city contractor since 2014 and that their military background is optimal for dealing with active shooter incidents that are becoming more and more commonplace throughout the country – including the anti-Semitic domestic terrorism incident in Jersey City on December 10th, 2019.
When asked about a manifesto from the suspect in the Buffalo supermarket slaying, which left 10 dead, that mentioned Jersey City, Lakewood, and Toms River, Fulop said there are no active threats but the city remains on high alert out of an abundance of caution.
“We have active communications with the FBI nearly daily. What we’ve done since then is increase [police] presence on the south side of the community, predominantly the African-American areas of the city because we want to make sure people feel safe,” he stated.
“There are no active threats to Jersey City, when you read that manifesto that the shooter of Buffalo wrote, he clearly spoke to somebody who was deranged and had psychological issues. But the reality is as it relates to Jersey City is a good example for what is possible across the country in regards to a very diverse city, lots of different communities living together in a peaceful, great way. So I think the shooter surely didn’t understand what was happening here in Jersey City.”
Fulop said that they aim to do three or four active shooter drills a year and that this one was planned prior to the tragedy in Buffalo.
Additionally, Police Director Tawana Moody said 24-30 officers would participate in the drill, with firefighters and EMS assisting as well.
“These drills are so important to use because it teaches us if we’re going to a supermarket what to do, if we’re going to a church, what to do, if you go into a school. So it’s important for a community to know exactly what to do because there’s such much uncertainty now, you can’t kinda just lead a normal life,” said Watterman, who also gave her condolences to the Buffalo victims and the Black community that was targeted.