Security/Emergency Information

Get started: Grants Gateway

Posted on April 27, 2018

Update: The grant guidance for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program is rumored to be released in late May. We expect very few changes in the application process for nonprofits in the defined UASI areas (see the 2017 areas here), but are unsure about the process and requirements outside the defined UASI areas. In New York State applicants are required to “Prequalify.” See our updated help on Prequalifying below. If you have other questions click to our dedicated webpage, www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants.

Prequalification
In order to apply for any grant through New York State applicants are required to “prequalify” through the Grants Gateway. There, applicants answer questions about their governance, policies and practices. Here’s more info:

Registration
On the Grants Reform Website download a copy of the Registration Form for Administrator.

  • Mail a signed, notarized original Registration Form for Administrator, substitute W-9 form and organizational chart (see samples here) to the Division of Budget at the address provided in the instructions. If all of your submissions are in order you will be provided with a Username and Password allowing you to access the Grants Gateway within 48-72 hours. The first time that you sign onto the system you will be asked to change your password.

Getting more help

  • Review the list of documents that must be uploaded into the secure document vault. Upload the required documents and answers to the questions. See the information below with specifics for religious corporations.

Answering the Organizational Capacity questions
Consider the Grants Gateway process as an “educational” experience. Grants Gateway asks questions that represent “best practices” for well-run nonprofits with the hope that organizations will adopt policies consistent with good governance.  Some policies are required by law.

  1. Staff Code of Conduct: All organizations should have a personnel manual. Here is an example of a template to help you put one together.
  2. Fiscal/Internal Controls Policy. A primary responsibility of a nonprofit’s board of directors is to ensure that the organization is accountable for its programs and finances to its contributors, members, the public and government regulators. Click here for the NY AG’s guidance and here for the National Council of Nonprofits’ We’re a small nonprofit. What internal controls do we need to have in place?
  3. Conflict of Interest Policy: All NY nonprofit corporations must have a Conflict of Interest Policy. Sample Conflict of Interest Policy   Annual Form
  4. Whistleblower Policy: Nonprofit corporations or charitable trusts with 20 or more employees and an annual revenue in excess of $1,000,000 in the prior fiscal year must have a Whistleblower Policy. Click here for a sample.

Your board of directors should approve the above policies.

Required documents for religious corporations
(e.g., synagogues or religious schools incorporated as religious corporations)

  • Articles of Incorporation: You should already have a Certificate or Articles of Incorporation demonstrating that you are incorporated under the New York Religious Corporations Law.
  • 501(c)(3) Status: Religious corporations should provide their IRS Recognition Letter ( also known as a 501(c )(3) or tax exemption letter) from the IRS if they have one. Those that do not, may satisfy this requirement by uploading a signed letter, on organization letterhead, stating they are exempt from this requirement.
  • Bylaws: For an example of bylaws click on the appropriate link (Members/No Members) and an explanation of New York State synagogue bylaws here.
  • Form 990: Religious corporations are not required to file IRS Form 990. In lieu of this form, applicants may upload a signed letter, on organization letterhead, stating they are exempt from filing a Form 990. When asked for the “Next due date”, state 1/1/2020.
  • Audited Financial Statements/Reviews: Religious corporations that do not have a formal audit may upload your financial report from the previous fiscal year. It can be a review from an accountant or even a QuickBooks “Profit and Loss” and a “Balance Sheet” report showing income and expenses. It should be accompanied by a letter signed by the President, Secretary or Treasurer; stating that the Board of Directors/Trustees reviewed and approved the financial report.
  • CHAR 410 and CHAR 500:
    • Religious corporations must file the first page of CHAR 410(basically name, address and contact information) of the CHAR410 (Registration Statement for Charitable Organizations: form, instructions), along with the Schedule E (Request for Registration Exemption for Charitable Organizations).
    • On the Schedule E, fill out your name and EIN (you will not have your NY State registration number until this form is approved).
    • Then, check off the box at the top of the page next to “Both EPTL and Article 7-A”; the box in Part I, number 5; and the box in Part II, number 5.
    • Mail the completed first page of the CHAR 410, the Schedule E, a copy of your Certificate of Incorporation and the required fee ($25 payable to “NYS Department of Law.”)  to: New York State Department of Law (Office of the Attorney General), Charities Bureau – Registration Section, 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10005.
    • Copy the first page of your CHAR410 and your Schedule E and upload them to the system. You will have to update this item when your submission is approved by the NY Attorney General. Nonprofits that are not religious corporations must file a CHAR500. 

Update: Suspicious Package Indicators and Recommended Response Procedures

Posted on March 28, 2018

The National Explosives Task Force (NETF) coordinates rapid integration of explosives expertise with intelligence and law enforcement information to support operational activities. Products are peer-reviewed by explosives experts from participating agencies.

National Explosives Task Force
Suspicious Package Indicators and Recommended Response Procedures

Package bombs, which include letters, parcels, and anything delivered by postal or courier service, are not a new technique and have been used by terrorists and anarchist groups. Many of these bombs are triggered when victims handle or open the packages, although they can be initiated in other ways.

Package bombs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they may look harmless. There are a number of characteristics that may lead you to become suspicious of a letter or package.

If you believe a letter or package is suspicious:

  • Stop. Do not handle or open.

    Click on the image to download a copy of this poster.

  • Do not use cell phones, pagers, or two-way radios near suspected devices.
  • Be aware of secondary devices.
  • Evacuate and isolate the immediate area.
  • If applicable, activate the facility’s emergency plan.
  • Make note of the characteristics that caused suspicion.
  • Call 911.

Formal Screening Procedures
Commercial or government entities with mail screening procedures are advised to review existing procedures for screening packages, identifying suspicious items, and instituting the appropriate safety protocols.

If no current procedures are in place, guidance should be sought from local, state, and/or federal resources. Planning considerations should include (but not be limited to) recurring training for screeners, an understanding of the standards and limitations for operating times, and regularly scheduled maintenance of screening equipment, such as calibration, updates, and testing.

Response Procedures
The NETF prepared this document to raise awareness of package bombs and the need for diligence and safety procedures in evaluating suspected improvised explosive devices. If a suspicious package is found, call 911.  Any diagnostic or render safe actions should be performed only by the appropriate experts.

The U.S. government has resources on mail security available to citizens and businesses. More
information can be found at http://about.usps.com/securing-the-mail/mail-security-center.htm. Click here to download a PDF copy of this notice.

The National Explosives Task Force (NETF) coordinates rapid integration of explosives expertise with intelligence and law enforcement information to support operational activities. Products are peer-reviewed by explosives experts from participating agencies.

Great news: Omnibus Bill has $50M plus for nonprofit security grants

Posted on March 22, 2018

Congressional leaders posted the text of Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (aka the Omnibus Bill)) last night. Its passage will keep the government operating for the remainder of the fiscal year. Included in the bill (besides the Taylor Force Act) is an allocation of $50 million (up from $25M) for the Nonprofit Security Grants Program (NSGP) and $10 million for nonprofits outside of the designated UASI regions (Good news for upstate and Connecticut institutions).

We won’t know when the application package will be available or the deadline for submission until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security releases its guidance. People always complain that they aren’t given enough time to complete their applications so we advise you to click to www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants and follow the instructions to get started now.

The projected increase in the grant allocation would not be possible without our Congressional champions. A major push for the $50 million came in a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee (including the Ranking Member, our own Rep. Nita Lowey) circulated by Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. and our own Dan Donovan, Jr. Our New York delegation figured prominently among the signers, including: Representatives Yvette Clarke, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Adriano Espaillat, John Faso, Hakeem Jeffries, John Katko, Peter King, Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, Jerrold Nadler, Thomas Suozzi, Kathleen Rice, Claudia Tenney and Nydia Velázquez. Of course, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Democratic Leader Charles Schumer were helpful in the Senate. Please contact their offices to let them know that you appreciate their leadership.

JCRC-NY and UJA-Federation are key members of the dynamic coalition that pushes for this legislation year-after-year. The linchpin of this effort is Rob Goldberg of the Washington, DC office of the Jewish Federations of North America. Our friend, William Daroff, the senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America, plays an important role.

Security Grants Updates

Posted on March 09, 2018

We continue to get the question, “When will the grant come out?” My standard answer is, “If you can tell me when the federal government will have a budget I might be able to answer that question.”

I am ​pleased to share with you an update from Rob Goldberg at the Jewish Federations of North America. Rob is the father of, and key advocate for, the NSGP.

Nearly six months into fiscal year 2018, action on the unfinished spending package is “possible” next week. The $1.3 trillion omnibus measure is due March 23.  There are still a few polarizing issues that need to be ironed out, particularly within the Labor-HHS-Education, Financial Services and Homeland Security measures due to a combination of policy and funding differences. With respect to homeland security the sticking points pertain to money for border security infrastructure (including “The Wall”) and budgeting for detention beds.

At this point, I believe that the House and Senate Homeland Security negotiators have reached agreement on NSGP spending levels.  While I do not know what level has been determined, I expect it will be somewhere between the $20 million set aside in the Senate HLS Committee’s draft bill and the $50 million approved by the House.  I note that we have been advocating very hard for the House levels.

As of today, we also do not know whether the House agreed to the Senate’s language to extend program eligibility to communities that reside outside of the current established high threat urban areas (as defined by the Urban Area Security Initiative).

​Our view is that if lightning strikes and the Omnibus Bill passes​, it will take DHS about a month to release its FY18 application guidelines, timelines ​(including the deadline for states to forward grant applications) ​and directives​. Then NY DHSES ​will need ​about a week to release its Request for Applications(around the end of April, beginning of May​?).  Last year NY applicants had nine days to complete their paperwork, but the due date depends on the deadline that DHS gives to the states. If the Omnibus Bill passes in March people will have more time than they did last year (best guess, 3-4 weeks), but we strongly advise that you get started now (see the information below​).

Many new applicants find that the most time-consuming step of the process is the Document Vault. We suggest that you plan to complete your Document Vault and get your assessment/survey finished before Passover.

New York State grant. The NY State Division of Homeland Security is currently reviewing the submissions for  the FY 2017-18 Securing Communities Against Hate Crime Program (SCAHC). They anticipate that they will notify the applicants of the results this month. All of the eligible applicants that appropriately and accurately responded to the Request for Applications are likely to receive grants.

Webinar. JCRC-NY will offer a webinar on completing the grant application package once the New York State Request for Applications is released.  We expect there will be few changes in the program (except for the possibility that nonprofits outside of the designated areas will be eligible) so you can click here to view our 2017 guidance to get started.


Getting started


The process and application is likely to be quite similar to last year’s RFA (Request for Applications) :

  • Prequalification. Plan to complete your prequalification before Passover. New York State will not accept applications for grants unless the 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.
  • E-Grants. New York State applicants to both programs must submit all of their application package through the E-grants system. Download the E-Grants Registration and follow the instructions to obtain an account and password. The E-Grants Tutorial shows you how to get through the process.

We get letters…Thoughts on armed or unarmed

Guest post
Pinchas Levin
TaryagDefense.com

A little over a year ago we published a post, Armed or unarmed security, what’s best? which still represents our thinking about armed or unarmed guards. With all of the recent mass shootings one of our loyal readers sent us his thinking on the subject and raised other concerns. The following, which represents his opinion for your consideration, especially regarding the concern that even if a person is licensed to carry a weapon, they might be as dangerous to others as an attacker. We agree that that any armed guards should be required to regularly practice at an appropriate facility and formally qualified to use their weapons effectively.

Re: Arming Teachers

I think we can all agree that no further infringements on the 2nd Amendment would serve any useful purpose in curbing school shootings. “Gun free zones” are as fictional as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. Every mass shooting in the last 10 years took place in a “gun free zone”. Obviously (to most rational people!) no perpetrator is likely to choose a venue where somebody might shoot back! But, as for “teachers with guns”, simply HAVING a gun doesn’t afford any protection at all and, on the contrary, in unskilled hands would likely cause injury to any number of innocent bystanders. Unless they are highly skilled and practiced, armed civilians are simply a menace to society.

When I became responsible for security at my shul, I discovered that a dozen men were carrying (it’s Texas, after all). I interviewed them to determine their level of competence and learned that most hadn’t fired their gun in years, couldn’t specify its make or model, and probably could not have picked it from a police lineup. Imagine the mayhem that would result in a crowded room if a dozen unskilled shooters decided to shoot at a perpetrator. Could they hit their target at all, let alone with the adrenaline pumping? Would they be aware of what’s BEHIND their target, or how many walls their rounds would penetrate – both within and outside the building?

Defensive shooting in a public space requires extensive mental and practical preparation – study, practice, previewing and situational awareness, not to mention an understanding of local and state laws. I promptly posted a “guns prohibited” sign on the front door (called an “Ordinance 30.06” sign in Texas) and then tried to find a few IDF or US veterans who could pass the US Marshal Service Course of Fire – a basic shooting skills test used at another Orthodox synagogue in town. Unfortunately, after more than a year, I’m still the only person who has passed it – and it’s astonishingly basic. In desperation, I requested that one IDF Infantry vet and one US Paratrooper vet, both combat-seasoned – although some years ago – carry in the congregation on Shabbos.

For public schools, a more practical approach would perhaps be to limit access to the building, deploy metal detectors, silent [panic button] alarms and skilled defensive shooters at school entrances and exits; and very importantly, to indemnify them and their institutions against corollary death or injury.

Speaking of which, schools and religious institutions need to be covered by a publicly funded insurance program in the event of a terror threat or defensive shooting. I’ve discussed this issue with both Cornerstone’s (Rev. Hagee’s) security people and those at the other Orthodox synagogue in town. We all examined our insurance policies and found that none of us currently have or are able to obtain liability insurance that protects anyone other than the insurance company – a major risk to all of us. [Editor’s note: we recommend that you discuss this issue with your insurance broker.]

Re: silent alarms: I have received halachic permission (perkuach ha nefesh – to preserve a life) to issue small pager buttons – mostly to women who tend to children in the foyer and hallways – that sound a soft chime in my talit bag in the event of a perceived threat or emergency. [Editor’s note: JCRC-NY does not make halachic determinations. Please consult your own rabbi for guidance.] No simple solutions here!

Posted in Active shooter