Anthony Aquino, Jr.
Montgazette Contributing Writer
At the start of the semester, many students may recall that pipe bombs were found at New Jersey Transit’s Elizabeth Station. A bomb-disarming robot was the only reported casualty thanks to an anonymous tip. Authorities have since arrested the man responsible. The incident caused me to reflect on local safety concerns here at the college and beyond.
Nearly a month after the incident, I boarded a train passing through Elizabeth to gather opinions on public transportation security.
I started at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. My frustration began when authorities refused to give personal opinions on the matter. They did, however, refer me to a website with “answers to all my questions”.
My next stop was Trenton Transit Center, where I was unable to record an authority’s opinion, yet again, due to “protocol.”
My final stop was Penn Station in New York. There, the officers stated that they were not allowed to give personal opinions or reveal new security measures taken since the pipe bombs had been found.
Although many officers told me that they wished they could help with my story, their unified silence speaks volumes for the quality of security provided for commuters.
I talked to some commuters like Dan Caster, a retired engineer, who was on his way back to Delaware after accompanying a friend to the airport. Speaking on behalf of the occasional traveler, he said, “I still feel safe because there are so few instances compared to the number of people that travel. The bomb-sniffing dogs I’ve seen at the larger train stations make me feel safer too.”
Julie Drago, a student at New York University, travels frequently via public transportation doesn’t think that a police presence is enough. “I feel relatively safe, but I feel as if there should be more encouragement to speak up if something or someone seems out of place. Not only should there be more encouragement, but it should be easier to do so.”
Essentially, events like what happened at Elizabeth Train Station appear to have heightened a public awareness of terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security’s campaign, “See Something, Say Something,” could have stopped an attack at Elizabeth along with attacks in the future.
Montco’s Director of Campus Safety, Joe McGuriman, noted students should feel safe on campus because, “The College Public Safety Department consists of well -trained security officers, some of whom have a lifetime of police experience.”
However, McGuriman encourages students to say something as well. “Students should report threats that they hear or see on social media. Students should make use of, and encourage friends to make use of, College Counseling services or the Student Support and Referral Team if they are in crisis or in need of mental health assistance. Students should report all criminal activity they see or know about to Public Safety or the police.”
If you spot an emergency on campus, call 911 then dial 6666 from a college phone or inform college staff or a campus safety officer.
Photo by Anthony Aquino, Jr.: New York University student, Julie Drago, stands in a New York terminal as she waits to continue her journey.