As we prepare to celebrate Passover we should remember that the upcoming religious holidays (not only Pesach, but Easter and Ramadan) may provide increased symbolic interest to homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and domestic extremists—including some perpetrators of hate crimes inspired by or adhering to domestic extremist ideologies—aspiring to target faith-based communities here in the United States. While security experts are not aware of any credible threats surrounding the upcoming religious holiday season, we suggest — out of an abundance of caution — that all synagogues maintain heightened vigilance during Passover. See our suggestions below.
While there have been no recent attacks or plots in the United States specifically targeting a religious holiday celebration, there have been successful and disrupted plots targeting faith-based communities here. Most HVEs and domestic extremists attempting any near-term attacks likely would use simplistic tactics and relatively easily obtainable weapons such as firearms, knives, and vehicles—although some violent extremists have sought to use explosive devices.
Recent incidents targeting houses of worship
- On 15 March 2019, an Australian national allegedly used firearms to attack the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, resulting in 50 fatalities and at least 50 non-fatal injuries. Police also discovered two improvised explosive devices in vehicles in connection with the attack.
- On 10 December 2018, an Ohio-based individual was arrested for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) for allegedly planning a mass-casualty attack on a synagogue in Toledo, Ohio. When researching a location, time, and weapons for the attack, the individual allegedly expressed a desire to attack the greatest number of people and inflict mass casualties.
- On 27 October 2018, a Pennsylvania-based individual, who has been indicted for multiple federal charges including violations of civil rights, allegedly shot and killed 11 worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wounding two other congregants and four responding law enforcement officers. He is currently awaiting trial for hate crimes and other federal charges.
- On 13 June 2018, a Wisconsin-based individual was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. The individual allegedly used a pro-ISIS social media account to suggest potential targets for bombing attacks, including churches.
- On 22 December 2017, a California-based individual was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS for a planned attack on a shopping center in San Francisco, California. Investigative reporting indicates the attack was intended to take place on Christmas Day and inflict mass causalities.
Recent statements and media from foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and FTO supporters online continue calls for attacks against places of worship and specific religious groups. Although HVEs generally do not respond to specific events with violence, we remain concerned that FTO media condemning the New Zealand mosque attacks, coupled with the possibility of repeated calls from FTOs encouraging supporters to attack during Ramadan, could lead to the increased possibility of retaliatory attacks by HVEs in the United States.
Religious holiday gatherings are an attractive target for HVEs and domestic extremists because they offer an opportunity to capitalize on large crowds and increased symbolism of the target; however, most violent extremists are unlikely to act on specific days or in response to calls for action, and are instead influenced by a variety of factors to mobilize to violence.
- Report. Anyone who observes any suspicious behavior is encouraged to contact law enforcement immediately at 888-NYC-SAFE. If you see something, say something.
- Overview. Look at the recent DHS publication, Mass Gatherings: Security Awareness for Soft Targets and Crowded Places, can be a great template for your security planning process. Virtually every suggestion in the document can be applied to your planning process. Organizations should “Connect, Plan, Train, and Report”. Applying these four steps in advance of a possible incident or attack can help better prepare us to proactively think about the role that our whole community plays in the safety and security of our organizations.
- Connect. The first step in the process is to “Connect”. You should have an ongoing relationship with your local police precinct. They should know when your services and programs are scheduled. If you don’t know your local police officials, the JCRC can help. Click here to contact us.
- Plan. Download Potential Indicators, Common Vulnerabilities, and Protective Measures: Religious Facilities and Hometown Security Report Series: Houses of Worship for suggestions and ideas.
- Active Shooter response. Many of our contacts attended active shooter trainings offered in the New York area last week. If you could not attend either session or another training, click here for the JCRC-NY dedicated Active Shooter Resources webpage that includes resources from many sources. If you want to arrange a training the JCRC can help, based on available resources. Click here to contact us.
- Access control. If an attacker can walk into a building unchallenged bad things will happen. No unauthorized person should be able to enter your building at any time. The first step is to develop a feasible access control policy (see our Sample Building Access Policies & Procedures) and to keep any door that cannot be monitored and controlled locked.
- Security personnel. Guards at synagogues vary in quality, but generally, almost anything is better than nothing. Volunteers are good, trained volunteers are better. Uniformed guards (e.g., identifiable shirts, vests, blazers) can be deterrents. Guards who are off-duty or retired police or corrections officers bring experience, training and judgement. To be effective, any guard has to have clear instructions and procedures (see below). NYPD does have a Paid Detail Unit which provides officers to perform off-duty, uniformed security work within New York City for approximately $45/hour. Click here for more information and contact details. For a discussion of armed vs. unarmed guards see our post Armed or unarmed security, what’s best? and a guest post here.
Best wishes for a happy and safe Pesach.
|Quick tips: What should your guard(s) be doing?|
|Guards should not be merely uniformed potted plants adorning your lobby. Rather, they should be an important and active component of your overall security plan.If you have a single guard, his/her logical priority is access control (see our suggestions on how to develop an access control policy here). At the same time, don’t lose sight of other important functions, including:
The security management industry calls instructions for guards, “post orders” which clearly outline the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. For example, your post orders should clearly set forth your access control policies and define the areas of your property that should be included in a walk-around and their time and frequency (e.g., upon arrival and upon returning from lunch).
Updated April 16, 2019| The New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NY DHSES) will have the New York-specific Request for Applications posted at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/grants/nonprofit/nsgp.cfm by the end of the day. Check back at www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants often to see our updates. Remember: all NY applicants are subject to the requirements, deadlines, etc. as set forth by NY DHSES. Note that there will be no information on the NY DHSES website (or in E-Grants) until they have the Request for Applications prepared.
- Grant amount. The maximum award this year will be $100,000.
- Stacking the deck for new applicants. This year 10 bonus points will be added to the scores of organizations that never received NSGP funding. This effectively gives a serious advantage to newbies.
- Security guards. The NSGP guidance now allows that the costs to hire a private security firm or off-duty law enforcement officers to provide security services to the facility or organization is permissible, as is the training of said security personnel (but not equipment of contracted security personnel). The recipient must be able to sustain this capability in future years without NSGP funding. Rob Goldberg (from the JFNA Washington Office and the key lobbyist for the NSGP) spoke with his FEMA contacts and reports that, “It means because the program is competitive, there is no guarantee of future years funding so the recipient may have to fund the project if they are unsuccessful in subsequent years. The language is an admonition, but it does not mean that an applicant must show, describe or otherwise prove that it has funding in future years to sustain security personnel.”
- Investment Justification. At first glance we don’t see any changes in the basic questions on the 2019 Investment Justification. If you followed our advice and practices on the 2018 version, make sure that you submit the 2019 one. Download it here.
- Timing. The deadline for NY DHSES submissions will be May 8th. We will be producing and posting our tutorial material this week, but will schedule a webinar — with an opportunity for questions –after Pesach.
The New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NY DHSES) will soon post its New York-specific Request for Applications (it will be posted here). Check back often to see our updates. Remember: all NY applicants are subject to the requirements, deadlines, etc. as set forth by NY DHSES. Note that there will be no information on the NY DHSES website (or in E-Grants) until they have the Request for Applications prepared.
No news yet on NY Hate Crimes grants
Please be advised that the NY DHSES is still processing the submissions from the December Securing Communities against Hate Crimes (SCAHC). We advise you to prepare two lists of priorities for your Investment Justification: 1) assuming that you receive the SCAHC grant; and 2) if you do not. NY DHSES is making every effort to let the December applicants know ASAP.
Getting ready for the grant
All organizations planning to submit for a grant this year should get started now, because the actual application may not be available until the last minute. Here’s what you should do:
- Get an assessment. If you don’t already have one, or have scheduled one, do so immediately. Since November, JCRC-NY, through a generous grant from UJA-Federation and the Paul E. Singer Foundation, has arranged for scores of professional security assessments for Jewish organizations. These assessments cover most of what is required on the federal Investment Justification (the major component of the application). By implementing the recommendations from the report, you should go a long way towards making your facility safer. Applications accompanied by self-assessments will be accepted. For more guidance click to: https://www.jcrcny.org/security-assessment/.
- Prequalify. Your Nonprofit Security Grant Program will not be accepted unless your organization is “Prequalified.” See more information at: https://www.jcrcny.org/document-vault-faqs/. If you submitted for a grant last year you are prequalified, but you may have to update some documents.
- E-Grants. NY grants must be submitted through the E-Grants system. Previous applicants already have an account. Otherwise, click here to apply for an account. N.B. JCRC-NY cannot answer questions about your E-Grants submissions. Contact DHSES at 1-866-837-9133 or Grant.Info@dhses.ny.gov.
- Investment Justification. This is the key component of the application. We don’t expect significant changes this year. Download the 2018 template here and answer all of the questions to the best of your ability now, so that you will be able to adapt your answers (if necessary) and cut and paste them into the 2019 Investment Justification, even if the application window is very brief.
- Help with the vulnerability and facility hardening sections. See our document, Tying together the risk and target hardening language. Select and build on our language to complete the most challenging sections of the Investment Justification.
- More help. Click here for the multi-year FAQ‘s on the NSGP distributed by FEMA. There are some interesting details in the FAQ’s.
Get a head start on the application by reviewing the FY 2018 NSGP Investment Justification (IJ) questions and preparing your answers. Download a copy at: Investment Justification2018, JCRC-NY’s 2018 Tutorial (PDF of PowerPoint), JCRC-NY’s Tying together the risk and target hardening language and JFNA’s Threat Chronology.
Some people couldn’t join the webinar today. Sorry, but this was a DHS production and we had no control.
We didn’t hear anything more than that they plan to release the Notice of Grant Opportunity (NOFO) on or before April 16th. We should expect the NY DHSES Request for Applications (RFA) soon thereafter. The NOFO will include the deadline for states to submit the applications to DHS. NY DHSES will have to give themselves enough time to score hundreds of submissions. Remember: The NY RFA will be the definitive and final word on all grant details.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Nonprofit Organizations.
- What is the purpose of the NSGP? The NSGP provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations that are at risk of a terrorist attack.
- Where can I learn more about the NSGP? The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is the official document that contains all information and requirements for the current year NSGP. The FY 2019 NSGP NOFO has not been released yet. Check http://fema.gov/grants for the NOFO release.
- How much funding is available under the NSGP? The total amount of funds available for NSGP is determined annually by the appropriations act. The total amount of funds available under FY 2019 NSGP is $60,000,000, of which: $50,000,000 is for NSGP-Urban Area (NSGP-UA); and $10,000,000 is for NSGP-State (NSGP-S)
- Who is eligible to apply to FEMA for NSGP funding? The State Administrative Agency (SAA, in NY that’s DHSES) is the only entity eligible to apply to FEMA for NSGP funding on behalf of an eligible nonprofit organization. Nonprofit organizations must apply to their SAA as the sub-applicant.
- Am I an eligible nonprofit organization? An eligible nonprofit organization must:
a) Meet the description under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) of 1986 and be exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such code;
b) For NSGP-UA, be located within one of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)- designated urban areas (the year you are applying for funding); OR for NSGP-S, be located outside of a UASI-designated urban area (for the year you are applying for funding); and c) Determined to be at high risk of a terrorist attack by the Secretary of Homeland Security (this is informed by the state scores/recommendations and the Federal review results).
- What is the difference between NSGP-UA and NSGP-S? NSGP-UA provides funding for nonprofit organizations located within a current year UASI designated urban area. NSGP-S provides funding for nonprofit organizations located outside of current year UASI designated urban areas. The UASI-designated urban areas are determined annually. For a list of UASI-designated urban areas, see the NSGP NOFO for the year you will apply for funding.
- Should I apply to NSGP-UA or NSGP-S? If the physical address of the nonprofit organization is within a UASI-designated urban area (the year you are applying for funding) then you may apply to NSGP-UA. If the physical address of the nonprofit organization is outside of a UASI-designated urban area (the year you are applying for funding) then you may apply to NSGP-S. If you are unsure whether your nonprofit organization’s physical address is located within or outside of a UASI-designated urban area, contact your SAA. For a list of SAA contacts, see http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/assets/documents/28689?id=6363. You may not apply to both programs. Applications that are received for the wrong program will be deemed ineligible.
- How do I apply? Eligible nonprofit organizations must apply to their SAA for NSGP funding. Nonprofits may not apply to FEMA directly. Contact your SAA for information on how to apply.
- What kinds of target hardening project costs or security enhancement costs can I apply for? Allowable costs include planning, equipment, training, and exercises. Below are some examples of each:
- Planning – Activities related to the development of plans such as:
- Security Risk Management Plans
- Continuity of Operations Plans
- Response Plans
- Equipment – Authorized Equipment List Sections 14 and 15 only; examples include:
- Access control equipment
- Surveillance equipment
- Physical protective measures such as fences, bollards, concrete barriers
- Active Shooter Training
- Security Training for employees, or members/congregation
- Response exercises
- Planning – Activities related to the development of plans such as:
For a complete and up-to-date description on allowability, see the NSGP NOFO for the year you will apply for funding. See more FAQ’s here.
DHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives
Prepare Now for the Non-Profit Security Grant!
Updated March 14, 2019| FEMA will release the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) no later than April 16, 2019 which opens the application period. Under the FY 2019 NSGP FEMA will award $60 million in security related funding to nonprofit organizations. New York State DHSES will transform this document into its Request for Applications (RFA) which will be the last word for New York nonprofits on the requirements and deadlines for submissions.
In FY 2019, FEMA will award $60 million dollars in security funding for nonprofit organizations. The application period for NY organizations starts on the day the RFA is released. Nonprofit organizations are required to submit their application to NY DHSES shortly thereafter.
FEMA Webinar (3/21) – Protecting Your Organization: Fiscal Year 2019 Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and other Resources to Help Keep Your Facility Safe
Please register if you are unable to attend to receive a recording of this webinar.
Please join FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate in partnership with DHS’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives and FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division, on Thursday, March 21, 2019 from 2-3 p.m. ET to learn about the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and how to prepare for the application period.
Get a head start on the application by reviewing the FY 2018 NSGP Investment Justification (IJ) questions and preparing your answers. Download a copy at: Investment Justification 2018, JCRC-NY’s 2018 Tutorial (PDF of PowerPoint), JCRC-NY’s Tying together the risk and target hardening language and JFNA’s Threat Chronology.
Note: JCRC-NY modified a FEMA announcement to add NY-specific details. Organizations outside of NY should check with their state.