Once again, we have seen someone who hates our way of life try to wreak death and destruction on innocent people at the height of the holiday season.
And once again, that terrorist didn’t succeed.
That’s in large part due to the quick and heroic work of law enforcement. Once again, a Rockland resident played a role in taking down a terrorist.
Port Authority Police Officer Drew Preston of Thiells, a U.S. Army veteran of three tours in Iraq, was one of four officers who subdued a terrorist with a pipe bomb in a subway tunnel beneath the Port Authority, a transit hub for many Rockland commuters.
He acted decisively and bravely, just as Pearl River resident Bill Harris did on Halloween when he happened upon the terrorist who had just killed eight people on a bike path in Lower Manhattan.
New York City, just a couple of miles away from Rockland County, has always been a target.
I remember very vividly what happened on Feb. 26, 1993 when I was a NYPD lieutenant and terrorists set off an explosion at the World Trade Center.
Six people were killed that day, including Robert Kirkpatrick of Suffern.
We now know that much worse was to come.
There are 82 names on Rockland County’s Sept. 11 Memorial at Haverstraw Bay Park.
The terrorists are not going away.
We have done a better job of identifying potential threats and we have certainly tightened security.
The lesson here is that we must keep up our guard year-round, not just after a terror attack and not just at big public events like the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center or a marathon.
We can’t wait until something bad happens before we ratchet up security.
We need to know that all levels of government, from local to county to state to federal, are on the same page when it comes to keeping us safe – all the time.
As potential targets within New York City are “hardened,” “softer” targets can seem more accessible to people who want to do us harm.
We here in Rockland County recognize that and we have a robust team under the capable leadership of Sheriff Louis Falco that works day in and day out to ensure our safety.
We can’t tell you about many of the measures we employ to make sure that we are safe.
But rest assured that they are in place and being implemented.
And there’s something else that we can do to boost our own security: Each of us needs to be alert to our surroundings.
Take the ear buds out of your ears. Unglue your eyes from your phone.
Look around you. Does something seem out of place? Is there something just a little off in your surroundings?
Remember the saying: “If you see something, say something.”
Keeping us safe is a responsibility we all share. We must look out for one another.
Go about your lives, shop, go to shows and movies, meet friends, have fun. Celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah now, Eid al-Fitr and Diwali and other religious holidays at the appropriate time.
Live your life. Savor the freedoms that generations of veterans have fought and died to protect.
Remember that law enforcement – and your fellow citizens – have your back.
Don’t let the terrorists win.