With the holiday season in full swing, law enforcement officials are warning Garden State residents they will be targeting impaired drivers as well as warning against possible terrorists targets both physical and online.
Police officers throughout New Jersey will begin stepping up traffic patrols and conducting sobriety checkpoints statewide as part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday campaign, starting today and running through January 1, 2022.
New Jersey’s crackdown on impaired driving is part of a nationwide effort to reduce traffic fatalities during the holiday season, when statistics show increased potential for crashes. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving through high-visibility enforcement and increased public education.
“Let me be clear – those who drive while impaired will face serious consequences,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck. “Getting behind the wheel drunk or high puts the driver, their passengers, and the public in jeopardy. Our traffic safety campaign will help everyone to enjoy the holiday season—responsibly.”
Last year, the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday campaign resulted in 590 DUI arrests (alcohol and/or drugs) statewide; and participating police agencies issued 3,121 and 817 summonses for speeding and seat belt violations, respectively.
Crashes involving drunk drivers accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic crash fatalities nationwide in 2019, claiming the lives of 10,142 that year. Drunk driving fatalities occurred more frequently during the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods that year than during any other holiday period, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In New Jersey that year, crashes involving drunk drivers accounted for nearly a quarter of all traffic crash fatalities, claiming the lives of 129 people that year.
To assist with New Jersey’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement efforts, the state has provided 106 law enforcement agencies throughout the state with grants totaling $632,520 that pay for saturation patrols and high-visibility sobriety checkpoints during the month-long enforcement effort.
The crackdown on impaired drivers comes as the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) and its cybersecurity division urge the public to stay alert for signs of physical and cyber threats that target individuals, organizations and businesses across the State.
“The holiday season is filled with moments to cherish along with our loved ones, but those with nefarious intentions can take advantage if we let our guards down,” said NJOHSP Acting Director Laurie R. Doran.
See Something, Say Something
Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to ease, and crowds of all sizes will have the opportunity to attend indoor and outdoor gatherings this year. A multitude of holiday-themed events scheduled across the State, as well as increased crowds at retail establishments, can be attractive targets for those who wish to harm others. Although there are no known credible threats to New Jersey at this time, the “See Something, Say Something” message remains pertinent to thwarting potential incidents.
“While we enjoy all that this time of year has to offer, let’s not lose focus of the key steps that keep us all safe and secure,” said Doran. “I ask everyone to do their part and alert the proper authorities to activity that seems out of the ordinary.”
NJOHSP noted that faith-based communities should remain cognizant that houses of worship are still extremist targets. Religious leaders preparing services for holiday observances and other functions can learn the best ways to protect their congregations and facilities on NJOHSP’s Interfaith webpage at https://www.njhomelandsecurity.gov/interfaith.
With online shopping during the pandemic becoming the new norm for New Jerseyans, NJOHSP warns that it comes with significant risk if users are not careful. Accounts and devices that lack strong security settings are as enticing as a doorbuster deal for cyber criminals.
The state agency noted individuals and businesses have increasingly fallen victim to cyber attacks, including ransomware. Compromised or spoofed websites, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, gift card scams, phishing schemes and spoofed emails often result in data theft and large financial losses.
“Consumers shopped online at a record pace last year, and experts are forecasting an uptick in this activity for 2021,” said New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell Director Michael Geraghty. “Making cybersecurity a top priority is an effective way to limit vulnerabilities to cyber attacks that are mostly preventable.”
Supply chain issues have also caused shipment and delivery delays this year, resulting in scams that try to dupe nervous shoppers into opening links or attachments infected with malware. Given the volume of e-commerce shopping, cybercriminals will continue their efforts to target online shoppers for financial gains.
“Customers who focus on cyber best practices, such as being wary of links and attachments in emails, taking caution with social media ads, avoiding public computers and public Wi-Fi and enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible, will ensure their holiday shopping experience is more cyber secure,” said Geraghty
For more information on staying safe this holiday season and year-round, visit njohsp.gov and cyber.nj.gov.
Anyone who observes suspicious activity should immediately contact local law enforcement or NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch Desk at 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ (1-866-472-3365) or firstname.lastname@example.org.