Federation looks ahead to protect Dallas Jewish organizations
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas rolled out a new community-wide security initiative last week, with the goal of helping protect and better secure all of the Jewish organizations in the area.
“This is something that we wanted to undertake, and it’s something that we felt we could help do for everyone else,” Bradley Laye, CEO and president of the organization, said. “This is something we felt could be put in place to help keep our entire community safer.”
The announcement comes at a time when security has become more paramount for Jewish organizations. Across the country there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish institutions and communities in the past eight weeks, while other acts of vandalism and anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise.
“Unfortunately it hasn’t been the easiest time to be a Jew in the United States,” Laye said. “Through this (initiative) we want to help combat that and protect our community.”
While it may look reactionary because of the timing, the Federation has been working on this for more than a year.
“It’s unfortunate that the latest events nationally have been thrust on the forefront of our news, and have been what people outside of our community been reading most about our community,” JFGD Board Chair Dan Prescott said.
“However I will say that what I can say personally, is the that entire the Dallas Jewish Community led by the Federation will continue to be strong and will be safe and will continue to be successful.”
In February 2016 the Federation requested a $30,000 grant to research and create the community infrastructure required for a more secure Jewish community. They homed in on three main goals including:
- Develop a community-wide communication strategy.
- Develop continuous community-wide training.
- Perform physical site assessments to harden one’s physical infrastructure.
Representatives from local law enforcement, the FBI, and the Secure Community Network (SCN) consulted on this project and on Feb. 7, officially launched a Community Security Initiative that will be led by a director of community security.
The director of community security will be hired with a law enforcement and security background, and the hire is expected to be made within three weeks, Laye said.
That person will guide an initiative that will assess security needs; implement Mir3, a mass communication service; develop training programs; act as a liaison to local law enforcement; and work to create a commissary of security needs to increase quality and potentially reduce cost.
There is no cost to community organizations to be involved and more than 50 local Jewish organizations attended the rollout meeting last Thursday.
Laye said the meeting has had great results. Most of the questions came about specific concerns for specific organizations or institutions, which showed the community is already thinking big-picture with the application.
“It shows that this really was needed and people realize it can help them,” Laye said. “We’re happy to have something in place like this and hopefully we can help everyone feel a little bit safer.”