Vigilance Over Fear


In light of the recent terror attacks in Paris, the suspected bombing of the Russian jetliner, the hostage crisis in Mali, and the increased security measures being taken around the world, it may seem like we have something to fear. It is important to realize, though, that fear is not an adequate reaction.

As citizens of our communities, state, nation, and the world, we can all do our part by being vigilant and aware to keep our communities safe. Students here at Pascack Hills should not be scared, rather realize that we live in a dynamic world in which vigilance is the best advantage we can have.

Federal authorities, state agencies, and local departments are working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the people who live in them. Everyday, new plans and systems are being put into place to protect our cities and schools. On a national level, agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations work around the clock to protect citizens of the United States by analyzing possible threats and thwarting terroristic activities before they even occur.

An additional effort of the Department of Homeland Security is the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign that promotes reporting of suspicious activity and increased vigilance in communities.

In major cities like New York, law enforcement is working hard to analyze intelligence and work with other agencies (including foreign law enforcement) to prevent terrorist attacks. Additionally, they are putting measures into place that make increase the New York Police Department capability to respond to terrorist incidents. In November 2015, 100 officers of the NYPD were transferred into the new Critical Response Command, a heavily armed and highly trained group that will patrol high-profile locations throughout the city and be able to respond to incidents rapidly.

Even here in Bergen County and Pascack Hills, law enforcement ensures the protection the students and community. Our Student Resource Officer, Kash Cruise, echoed the idea of being vigilant, “Be cautious. Be extra observant. Keep an eye on things. When things look out of place, when things look weird, when something seems strange, call the police… Remain vigilant, keep observing, but don’t let a fear of something keep you from doing the things you want to do”.

He also points out, “The whole word terrorist, their goal is to instill terror and fear and make you not do the things you’d do in your everyday normal life. If that’s their goal and people are living that way then they’re kind of winning to a degree.”

While Bergen County and Montvale are unlikely spots for any terror activity to occur, our proximity to New York City should encourage us to still remain vigilant.

In regards to security here at Pascack Hills, Officer Cruise says, “Obviously we have two security officers in the front of the school. They’re both retired police officers… The FBI disseminates bulletins, things that we should be looking out for, and I share that with the administration and the security staff. We communicate on a daily basis on what’s going on and what we can be looking out for.”

Pascack Hills students can embrace the idea of being vigilant themselves in person and in their interactions on social media by taking note of any suspicious behavior or comments and then reporting them to parents, teachers, local authorities, or any trusted adult. The goal of terrorism is in the name, to invoke terror. We as citizens should not feel fear; rather, we should conduct ourselves without fear but with vigilance, the best way to protect our school, communities, and nation.