FBI investigating case, 1 of 28 called-in threats across nation Jan. 18
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center’s emergency preparedness was tested last week when a bomb threat was called in around 9:45 a.m. Jan. 18.
Dallas police and fire officials cleared the building and gave the all-clear roughly an hour later.
“Everything was dealt with very well,” JCC CEO Artie Allen said. “Security and safety are our top priorities, and while you never want to test those plans, I was very proud how everything was handled.”
The FBI still has an ongoing investigation into the case, and it was one of 28 bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers across 17 states Jan. 18.
A brief FBI statement Wednesday said it and the Justice Department’s civil-rights division are investigating “possible civil rights violations in connection with threats.”
The calls came less than 10 days after there were bomb threats to 16 centers in nine states Jan. 9.
It’s a frustrating and scary situation, but one JCC employees and staff were ready for.
“In the wake of last week’s calls, JCCs were well-prepared for the calls received today. Many JCC leaders took part in a webinar organized quickly by JCC Association, featuring officials from SCN (Secure Community Network) and the Department of Homeland Security to address concerns and procedures,” David Posner, the director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, said in a written statement. “Lessons learned and best practices discussed were clearly on display this morning, and we applaud our JCCs for responding calmly and efficiently. Many JCCs not affected last week took the opportunity to review their own security plans, and speak with local law enforcement.”
Dallas was among the JCCs to review their security protocols.
“We really haven’t had to deal with it very often,” Allen said. “We’ve been fortunate in that way, but it doesn’t stop us from being prepared and always checking and making sure our security measures are updated.”
Officials from the Anti-Defamation League said the Dallas JCC was well prepared and handled the situation perfectly.
“Security has to be a priority and a 24/7 concern,” Cheryl R. Drazin, the regional director for the ADL, said. “To regularly update and review is important because of different buildings and structures, so while it’s all similar threats, there are different steps different JCCs have to take. You never want to test those plans like this, but it was a showing that they were ready.”
Several of those directly impacted were scared, but relieved after the incident.
Many parents of preschoolers at the JCC shared their thanks with the staff and teachers via email. The JCC passed on more than a dozen emails to the Texas Jewish Post, all of them praising and thanking the staff for their quick, calm reactions in a potential moment of chaos.
“Communication was very important through all of this,” Allen said. “From the reaction to sharing what happened with the community. Once again, I’m very proud of how everything was handled and how the staff responded to a very frustrating situation like this.”