Category Archive: Synagogue Security

New security funding for NY Jewish organizations

As you are considering how to best secure your organization while remaining welcoming, UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY are pleased to offer, with generous support from the Paul E. Singer Foundation, additional resources to keep you and your stakeholders safe and secure:

PROFESSIONAL SECURITY ASSESSMENT: Through JCRC, UJA-Federation is making available at no cost to you, professional security assessments so that you can immediately start safeguarding your institution and be ready to apply for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NY State grants. Organizations that professionally assessed are significantly more likely to receive funding than those that do not. For more information, review the information below or contact David Pollock at JCRC.

Apply Now

SECURITY GRANTS RECIPIENTS BRIDGE LOAN PROGRAM: Through the Hebrew Free Loan Society (HFLS), UJA has created a bridge loan fund providing capital to federal and state grant recipients to make all necessary upgrades immediately; and get reimbursed from the state later. Available on a first come, first served basis for organizations that have received security grants, but cannot afford to pay for security enhancements upfront while awaiting reimbursement from the government. This program provides interest-free loans of up to $150,000 to organizations in any of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, or Long Island Read here for more information, or contact HFLS Director of Finance Daren Scott.

Apply Now


Start with an assessment

A Terrorism Vulnerability Assessment  examines the threats to your Jewish organization, documents the gaps in physical security measures and security policies and procedures, and the consequences of a terrorist attack. The assessment will also recommend specific steps to mitigate the threats, specifically written to comport with the federal and state grant applications. Click here to apply for an experienced and credentialed security professional to conduct a Terrorism Vulnerability Assessment of your Jewish organization.

Assessments will be scheduled until the funding is exhausted. We hope to serve as many deserving organizations as possible.

Find out how to apply for government grants

Soon,  two grants will be available to certain New York nonprofits. Applications for both the state and federal grants must be submitted through the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Click here for their nonprofit grants page. Here are the details.

New York State Grants Gateway/Prequalification

New York State will not accept applications for grants unless the nonprofit applicant is prequalified, i.e., applicants must upload basic organizational documents and answer questions about their nonprofit’s capacity and integrity. This portal is known as the “Grants Gateway.”

  • New applicants. See JCRC-NY’s additional information about how to get started and special instructions for religious corporations at: http://www.jcrcny.org/document-vault-faqs/.
  • Previously prequalified. If your nonprofit was previously prequalified, you will still have to update certain documents if your document vault “expires” (i.e, certain information goes out of date). Check out your Document Vault for more information.

Prequalification is not as hard as it may look, but it’s important to get started now! Your organization will not be able to apply unless you are prequalified.

New York State Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grants

New York State, committed to ensuring the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers, is launching a second round of the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program to boost safety and security at New York’s nonpublic schools, day care centers and cultural museums at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission. In support of this effort, a total of $10.1 million in grant funding has been made available on a statewide basis.

  • Availability. Now.
  • Eligibility. Nonpublic schools (Preschool-12), nonprofit day care centers (including those housed in JCC’s and synagogues) and cultural museums that are at risk of hate crimes or attacks against their facilities because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. For the purpose of the grant, terrorism is included as a category of hate crime. Click here for the exact details on eligibility.
  • Maximum grant amount. Applications will be accepted for up to $50,000 per facility. Eligible organizations with multiple sites may submit up to three applications for a maximum total request of up to $150,000 allowed per organization.
  • What will the grant pay for?
    • Hardening the organization’s facility or facilities including recreational areas adjacent to the facility through exterior physical security enhancements; and/or
    • Providing security training that will advance the knowledge of security personnel and staff.
  • Deadline. Applications are due to Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services by 5:00 pm on December 19, 2018. Applications submitted past this date will be disqualified. Individual extensions will not be given.
  • Application form. Applicants must complete the DHSES Risk Evaluation Tool to describe the organization’s significant risk of a hate crime and its proposed equipment and training needs to prevent and protect against a hate crime.
  • Risk/Security/Threat Assessment. Applicants with a current or previously conducted (within three years) risk/security/threat assessment completed by a police department, private company or university should base their Risk Evaluation Tool submission on the information, analyses and findings contained in the risk/security/threat assessment(s). However, no assessment is required.
  • What are your chances? Last year, all of the eligible applicants that filed a complete application were awarded a grant.
  • Additional assistance. See JCRC-NY’s dedicated webpage at www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Nonprofit Security Grant Program

Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations.

    • Availability. Sometime in Spring, 2019.
    • Eligibility. Nonprofit organizations in New York City, Long Island and Westchester that are determined to be at high risk of a terrorist attack by the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Maximum grant amount. Unknown. Last year the maximum was $150,000. The upcoming grant may place a $100,000 cap (or less) so that more organizations can be funded.
    • What will the grant pay for? Allowable costs are focused on target hardening and physical security enhancements. Funding can be used for the acquisition and installation of security equipment on real property (including buildings and improvements) owned or leased by the nonprofit organization, specifically in prevention of and/or protection against the risk of a terrorist attack. This equipment is limited to select items in the following two categories of items on the Authorized Equipment List (AEL):
      • Physical Security Enhancement Equipment (Category 14)
      • Inspection and Screening Systems (Category 15)
      • Training. Allowable training topics are limited to the protection of critical infrastructure key resources, including physical and cybersecurity, target hardening, and terrorism awareness/employee preparedness including programs such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, Active Shooter training, and emergency first aid training. Training conducted using NSGP funds must address a specific threat and/or vulnerability, as identified in the nonprofit organization’s Investment Justification.
      • Planning. Funding may be used for security or emergency planning expenses and the materials required to conduct planning activities. Planning must be related to the protection of the facility and the people within the facility and should include with access and functional needs as well as those with limited English proficiency. Examples of planning activities allowable under this program include:
        • Development and enhancement of security plans and protocols;
        • Development or further strengthening of security assessments;
        • Emergency contingency plans;
        • Evacuation/Shelter-in-place plans; and
        • Other project planning activities with prior approval from DHS/FEMA.

Deadline. Unknown. It is unlikely that this grant will be offered until there is a federal budget in place.

Application form. Applicants must complete a spreadsheet called an Investment Justification. We assume that the 2019 Investment Justification will be similar to those used in previous years, so applicants thinking of applying for the federal grant should draft their answers using the 2018 form and cut and paste their responses into the 2019 form when it is released.

  • Risk/Security/Threat Assessment. The Investment Justification asks for findings from a “previously conducted risk assessment. The most useful risk assessments are from certified, independent security professionals, but police department crime prevention surveys and self assessments are acceptable.
  • What are your chances? Last year, 112 nonprofits in the New York area were awarded Nonprofit Security Grant Program grants and approximately twice that number applied.
  • Additional assistance. See JCRC-NY’s dedicated webpage at www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants.

 

Hebrew Free Loan Society bridge loans for security grant recipients

The Hebrew Free Loan Society’s Security Grants Bridge Loan Program provides interest-free loans of up to $150,000 to Jewish Community agencies in any of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, or Long Island that have been awarded government grants to fund security improvements. These grants require agencies to pay up front for the work and then to submit receipts for reimbursement, which causes a cash flow problem for some agencies to the point that they are unable to take advantage of the award. HFLS is partnering with UJA-Federation of New York to provide interest-free bridge loan financing to ensure that grant awardees can proceed with the work necessary to increase security and safety for their community. Click here to learn more and here for the application.

Devastating attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

Our hearts and prayers go out for the dead, wounded and survivors — all innocent victims of a blatantly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We are deeply grateful to the first responders who ran towards the bullets and prevented the carnage from getting any worse. The messages  of solidarity, hope and revulsion to anti-Semitism offered by many public officials and community leaders reassure us of the basic goodness of our nation. Still, recent events reinforce our ongoing concern that the hatred and violence borne by homegrown violent extremists can stem from many sources and motivations. When any group or faith is at risk, we are all at risk.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the NYPD deployed heavy weapons teams, including the officers from the Critical Response Command and the Strategic Response Team, to houses of worship across the City to supplement the patrol cars in every command making additional visits to reassure congregants. We have been in touch with the NYPD, the DHS and the FBI. Currently, there is no nexus to New York or any credible, direct threat to New York or the broader Jewish community. However, the confluence of mail bombs and the Tree of Life attack could be a catalyst for other copycat attacks.

According to NYPD SHIELD, “active shooters often choose to target religious locations/houses of worship during peak times and may make use of a wide range of tactics and weapons in attacks including, but not limited to, improvised explosive devices, assault rifles, improvised incendiary devices, and knives. Religious locations/houses of worship must take into account a diversity of tactics in preparing plans and response scenarios for potential crises and routinely familiarize all staff and students with emergency-specific lock down, shelter-in-place, and evacuation procedures.”

Action steps

  • 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.
  • 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.
Quick tips: What should your guard(s) be doing?
no-potted-plantGuards 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:

  • Vigilance. While they are on duty they can observe what is going on outside your building and monitor CCTV, possibly leading to the early detection of hostile surveillance or imminent hostile acts. See our suggestions for detecting hostile surveillance here.
  • Walk-arounds. Remember the Chelsea bombs? They were hidden in a trash container and a suitcase. If someone planted a device in your garbage can would anyone find it? One best practice is to have your guard tour your facility, inside and out, looking for something that “Just doesn’t look right”.
  • Notifications.Your guard should be given defined protocol and procedures if something “Just doesn’t look right” : who to notify (e.g., senior staff, general alarm), how to act and what else to do.
  • Crisis management. A well trained guard should be able to follow the protocols and procedures defined by you. They should be able to support responses such as bomb threats, evacuations and/or sheltering-in-place.

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).

 

 

Register for DHS Active Shooter Workshops

Posted on August 17, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is offering Active Shooter Preparedness Workshops in the New York area on October 16 (NYC) and October 19 (White Plains). For additional information and a schedule of other sites and dates  contact ASWorkshop@hq.dhs.gov.

Participants will learn how to mitigate the impacts of an active shooter incident and how to develop an initial organizational emergency action plan focused on such incidents.

Topics include:

  • Developing an Emergency Action Plan with guidance from expert instructors;
  • Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in physical security and planning considerations via break-out sessions;
  • Learning how to prevent active shooter incidents by recognizing behavioral indicators on the pathway to violence;
  • Understanding the history of significant active shooter incidents through survivor stories and expert perspectives;
  • Developing communication and incident plans for employees;
  • Building relationships with local first responders;
  • Coordinating with first responders before, during, and after an incident; and
  • Integrating public affairs into incident management.

Follow the links to see more information and to register for the New York City event on October 16, 2018 and for the White Plains event on October 18, 2018. Registration is required and seating is limited.

Click here for the JCRC-NY dedicated Active Shooter Resources webpage that includes resources from many sources.

High Holidays planning: Using the “Mass Gatherings” template

Posted on August 15, 2018

A 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 High Holiday security planning process, as well as other special events.

Your services are usually associated with larger than normal crowds and could be an attractive target for terrorism and other crimes. By connecting with local authorities, developing plans to identify issues and support incident response, training staff and volunteers, and reporting concerns to emergency authorities, many incidents may be mitigated or avoided.

Organizations should “Connect, Plan, Train, and Report”. Applying these four steps in advance of an incident or attack can help better prepare our institutions and and their employees to proactively think about the role they play in the safety and security of their businesses and communities.

Download the document here and our library of resources here.

May 5779 be a year of peace and security; what you can do to help

Posted on August 09, 2018

Rosh Chodesh Elul includes clarion calls indicating that the High Holidays are coming soon. So, now is a good time to check out a recent presentation on synagogue security or to take a deeper dive into the library of documents available on the JCRC-NY Security Resources pages. Here are some relevant selections:

High Holiday Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Library

Topical guidance

Vulnerability, Risk and Safety Assessments and Planning