NJ mass transit riders who see suspicious items will be able to text alerts to law enforcement under a plan unveiled by NJ Transit.
The new “Text Against Terror” initiative was announced during the transit agency’s board meeting as the newest homeland security measure for the system. The initiative will allow customers to text reports to 65873 if passengers do not want to call the existing terror hotline at 1-888-TIPS-NJT.
“Our customers and employees are our first line of defense in the war against terror,” NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein said in a presentation to the board.
The texting campaign, funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is one of the first of its kind for a transit system in the country, according to NJ Transit Police Chief Chris Trucillo. NJ Transit is the nation’s third largest mass transit system, with a million passengers daily.
Trucillo briefed board members on his department’s terrorism initiatives; including the increasing police and canine unit presence at station’s following the death of Osama bin Laden and establishing a counterterrorism unit in the department. He said the counterterrorism unit is working to develop intelligence to identify potential threats to the transit system.
Trucillo also noted that his department is working with local, county and state police officials on terrorism prevention, and has an officer assigned to the FBI’s terrorism task force.
“It’s about partnerships,” he said. “No agency can do it alone.”
The texting program comes less than a month after NJ Transit police responded a suspicious package on a Raritan Valley Line train in Cranford and to a bomb scare at the Chatham train station. Both scares were deemed to not be explosive devices.