Payne, Jr. Launches First Responders Working Group

November 4, 2016
Press Release

Newark, N.J. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) launched the 10th Congressional District’s First Responders Working Group with a meeting of emergency response partners on lessons learned from the recent bombings in New Jersey and New York and the importance of strengthening coordination between first responders and law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.

New Jersey leaders who participated in the meeting, which took place at the Department of Public Safety – Office of Emergency Management in Newark, included Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Emergency Management & Homeland Security Director Dorian Herrell, Jersey City Emergency Management & Homeland Security Director W. Greg Kierce, Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan, and Linden Police Chief Jonathan Parham.

“The value of building relationships across disciplines and across jurisdictions cannot be over-stated—especially here in Northern New Jersey,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “As the threats we face continue to evolve, it is more important than ever that we continue to coordinate training and exercise activities and to facilitate information sharing. Today’s meeting was a tremendous opportunity to continue to build critical relationships among those involved in emergency response and work together to tackle challenges faced by the first responder community. I will take what I learned today back to Congress to fight for resources that will help New Jersey’s first responders do their jobs.”

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks revealed glaring gaps in preparedness and information sharing—namely, that the nation’s response apparatus was siloed among jurisdictions and among disciplines, and relevant threat information was not always shared in a timely, actionable manner. Subsequent federal investments in disaster preparedness and recovery provided critical support in planning, training, and exercise activities that facilitated important coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement and emergency responders. By facilitating relationship building among emergency response partners, the 10th Congressional District’s First Responders Working Group will build on this progress.

At the meeting, Congressman Payne, Jr. also honored four Linden police officers—Angel Padilla, Peter Hammer, David Guzman, and Mark Kahana—for their work in apprehending the suspect in the recent bombings in New Jersey and New York. Padilla and Hammer were injured in a shootout leading to the suspect’s arrest.

As Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, Congressman Payne, Jr. has prioritized ensuring that first responders have the necessary resources and training they need to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate terrorist threats and natural disasters. In 2015, Congressman Payne, Jr.’s legislation to improve interoperable communications at the Department of Homeland Security, the DHS Interoperable Communications Act (H.R. 615), passed the U.S. Congress and was signed into Public Law by President Barack Obama. In September 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the First Responder Access to Innovative Technologies Act (H.R. 5460), legislation introduced by Congressman Payne, Jr. to make it easier for first responders to acquire new equipment and technologies they need to respond to evolving threats.