Mayor Bollwage Speaks on the Safety and Security in Elizabeth

This is the first in a series of columns about issues affecting residents of Elizabeth from Mayor. J. Christian Bollwage.

Last month’s discovery of bombs by the train station and the arrest of an Elizabeth resident really made people wonder how safe they are and how police and other law enforcement officers can safeguard the community. Also, since the individual who was arrested was an American, a “home grown terrorist,” we wonder how can we identify these people and how can we protect ourselves from them.

As the fourth largest municipality in New Jersey with a population of 124,969, the City is a large urban center, which encompasses 11.69 square miles. Home to The Mills - Jersey Gardens Mall, IKEA, AMC Loews Jersey Gardens Theater, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Union County College, along with numerous hotels and companies, the response area is distinct and extensive. 

Sign Up for E-News

One of our City’s biggest priorities is providing safety and security throughout our community and the Elizabeth Police have a crucial role to play in the protection of our residents and visitors. We have a force made up of qualified men and women who are working together to provide a strong foundation to protect communities from terrorism and other threats that our nation may be facing. 

Law Enforcement continues to implement new initiatives and expand existing neighborhood policing programs. Focusing on crime prevention and proactively, police officers and members of the community continue to partner and strengthen collaborative relationships in order to address concerns together. 

Community Block Watch meetings, which are held throughout the City’s Wards, have further demonstrated the effectiveness of holistic approaches to safeguarding neighborhoods.  Resident interaction, communication and feedback are enhanced and encouraged through these forums, where officers are present to answer questions as well as discuss issues that may arise within an area. 

Coordination is fundamental to a successful response to any critical incident, whether manmade or natural and the City of Elizabeth has a very powerful Emergency Response Team. Over the years, we have sought to address the causes and reduce the fear of crime in communities through the creation of effective partnerships with the community, training in problem-solving strategies or tactics. Like traditional crime, addressing terrorism is a responsibility shared among federal, state, and local governments.  Most recently, it hit very close to home when five pipe bombs were discovered in Elizabeth by two residents. Thanks to their quick actions and the response of the Elizabeth Police Department, County, FBI and the Linden Police Department, Ahmad Khan Rahami was apprehended and taken into custody in less than a day.

The big question that was asked is: how can we identify these people, who are known as homegrown terrorists? We ask for the cooperation of friends, family and neighbors to be on the lookout for things. 

Most recently, many residents are hearing the phrase: “If you see something, say something,” and some often wonder what exactly they would be looking for? This should focus on suspicious behavior, including but not limited to:

  • Unusual items or situations such as a vehicle that is parked in an of location, an unattended package/luggage/bag, a garage door/door/window that is open but usually closed or any other out of the ordinary situation such as that.
  • Someone who may be requesting too much information or is paying an unusual amount of attention to facilities or businesses. For example, someone questioning hours of a building, its purpose or daily operations, security measures, etc. Someone who is loitering or a repeated visitor in a short amount of time. Same thing would go for a residence, if someone asks too much information about your whereabouts, time you arrive/leave home, whether you live alone, etc.
  • Some of these activities could be innocent—it's up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. The activities above are not all-inclusive, but have been compiled based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years.

Public safety is everyone's responsibility. If you see suspicious activity, report it to the Elizabeth Police Department or a person of authority.

Describe specifically what you observed, including: 

  • Who or what you saw;
  • When you saw it;
  • Where it occurred; and
  • Why it is suspicious to you

Our men and women will continue to help ensure our neighborhoods are crime-free and will exemplify nothing less than excellence and professional conduct that the residents of this city expect and deserve.

The City of Elizabeth uses numerous social media outlets to keep our residents updated and informed. Residents can also provide feedback, inquiries, concerns or questions to us, making it easier to connect with everyone. 

Please make sure you are following one of the pages below for the most updated information:

City of Elizabeth website:

City of Elizabeth Facebook:

City of Elizabeth Twitter:

City of Elizabeth Instagram: 

Mayor Bollwage’s Facebook:

Mayor Bollwage’s Twitter:

The City of Elizabeth also has a messaging alert service that help residents access important and valuable community information when and where they need it simply by signing up. As a resident, there are several simple ways to register to receive COE Alerts: 

Use this link, which directs you to the form to fill out 

Text your ZIP CODE to 888777 from your mobile phone, or 

Speak with someone in the Public Information Bureau at 908-820-4124, who can assist you with sign up.

We also ask that you let your neighbors or friends in the community know about COE Alerts and encourage them to register. We believe this service will allow us to keep you informed in the most convenient, reliable way possible.






This is the first in a series of columns about issues affecting residents of Elizabeth from Mayor. J. Christian Bollwage

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Sat, April 28, 3:00 PM

Abraham Clark High School - Auditorium, Roselle

Roselle's First Circle of Sisters Expo Community ...

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Township

YP Honors: The Royal Ball 2018

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Giving Back Other

Sat, May 5, 2:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Theater Project Live Reading

Arts & Entertainment

Lifelong Elizabeth and Elizabeth Police to Hold  “Walking Safety ” Event

April 18, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Lifelong Elizabeth Program, under Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, will be holding another “Walking Safety Presentation” for Elizabeth residents on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to Noon, at the Elizabeth Public Library at 11 South Broad Street.

Elizabeth Police Department Sergeant Brian Clancy will provide participants with tips on walking safely and the ...

Countywide Free Scrap Metal Recycling Event to be Held in Rahway and Cranford

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A free Countywide scrap metal recycling event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 21 in Rahway and Cranford.  

A wide variety of metal goods, from household appliances to gutters and sheds, are included in the program.

“This countywide program helps to fill a service gap in some Union County municipalities that currently have no pickup for scrap ...

Westfield Firefighters Extinguish Small Blaze at Rock 'n' Joe's

April 15, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ - A small electrical fire started around noon at Rock 'n' Joe's on Prospect Street on Saturday.

According to Deputy Chief Anthony Tiller, the fire was caused by an electrical shortage in wires in the ceiling, sending smoke into the neighboring businesses on both sides.

“It created a smoke condition," Tiller said. "Once we located the fire, we ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

April 17, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Paterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. The April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude that ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Union County College to Begin Esports Program in the Fall of 2018

April 24, 2018

CRANFORD - Union County College will become one of 63 schools nationwide, and the first county college in New Jersey, to offer a coed intercollegiate esports program, also known as Electronic Sports. Esports is a multi-player video game program that competes with colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The Union County College Esports teams could compete against two and ...