EWING, N.J. - The New Jersey State Police yesterday officially opened an emergency operations center - a cavernous, technologically advanced hub for interagency coordination during terrorist attacks, major crimes or natural disasters.
Federal, state and local officials will gather at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center, nicknamed "The Rock," to monitor emergencies as they unfold.
Gov. Corzine, who helped open the $28 million center at state police headquarters in Ewing, called the center "the first of its kind, the best in its class."
"This is a proud day. It is an important day because it really is a major, vital step forward toward protecting the people of the state of New Jersey," Corzine said.
The center was dedicated to slain Trooper Philip Lamonaco, who was gunned down during a traffic stop on I-80 in 1981. The inscription on a memorial says Lamonaco's killers were caught and prosecuted because police agencies worked together, the core mission of the center.
The private dedication was attended by Lamonaco's widow and other relatives. Lamonaco's son, Michael, also a trooper, will work in the new building, Corzine said.
Beyond its emergency capabilities, the center was designed to provide police intelligence on major crimes such as hostage-takings and school shootings, and on gang activity through state-of-the-art technology.
"How far we have come," Attorney General Stuart Rabner said after reminding the audience that a big, empty room in Newark was New Jersey law enforcement's meeting spot after 9/11 and that officials were unfolding tables and installing computers as they coordinated their response to the attacks.
"This is a milestone moment for New Jersey," Rabner said. "We are not exaggerating when we predict that other states will follow suit with the lead that New Jersey has taken here."
The center was conceived in 1999 after Tropical Storm Floyd flooded large areas of New Jersey, including the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of state police headquarters, and gained momentum after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.