Security was focus of training session

Sometimes the best security comes from the man in the street or the store clerk at the local hardware store.

That was one message brought home by federal officers during a daylong bomb and explosive safety seminar at the Ocean County Training Academy in Waretown on May 14, according to a press release from the county.

Experts from the FBI, Homeland Security and other federal agencies instructed nearly 200 public and private first-responders on the dangers posed by homemade explosives.

“We were very, very pleased that the FBI chose our state-of-the-art training academy to host this important program,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, director of law and public safety for the county. “Too many times we have seen the death and destruction brought about by a single lunatic armed with a homemade bomb.”

Kelly said the recent near-tragedy in Times Square, New York City, in which a homemade explosive device was left in a vehicle but did not ignite, shows the dangers posed by bombs than can often be pieced together with easily purchased materials.

FBI instructors stressed the importance of educating the general public about the warning signs of a would-be terrorist.

“We want to get out the word that if people see something suspicious, they need to pick up the phone,” said FBI Special Agent Chris White. “If that store clerk at [a homeimprovement store] talks with someone who wants to buy 500 pounds of fertilizer, we need to know about it.”

White said the FBI hosted the event in Ocean County because the training center provided the “perfect location.”

“This really fit the bill for the kind of instruction we wanted to get done today,” he said. “Ocean County has really been great to us.”

Although the FBI has run nearly 20 similar seminars, this was the first in New Jersey and attracted students from around the state and the Northeast, according to the press release.

White said the seminar was not a result of the attempted Times Square bombing, but had in fact been set up weeks earlier.

“What happened in New York does make it very timely,” he said.

Among the students were emergency responders from local police departments, fire departments and first-aid squads, Ocean County sheriff’s officers, the fire marshal’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the Ocean County Security Department.

Six Flags, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association were among the corporate attendees.