As we settle into a new school year and are utilizing the month of Elul to prepare for a new Jewish year, we are provided with an excellent opportunity to also examine physical security and protocols at our schools and shuls. Tishrei is one of the busiest months of the Jewish calendar and a time where we encounter countless visitors and the increased chances of an incident.
We know it is possible to secure your location with basic, yet effective security within thirty six hours.
Here are steps you can take now to ensure a safe and secure new year:
1) Check your mezuzas and remember Hashem is in charge. However we must do our part in sharing the burden & privilege of keeping our fellow Jews safe.
2) Identify a point person at your site to be the liaison with law enforcement. Meet with law enforcement now, not during or after an incident, to discuss your security plans, tour your site and get to know each other. Offer food and refreshments to law enforcement during operating hours as a thank you. You will receive frequent visits.
3) Consider hiring off-duty police or private security officers. Ensure they have insurance, are alert and you give them clear instructions on what their posts and activities should be during services/school.
4) Use greeters and screeners to greet visitors and provide a deterrent to those who may wish to do harm. Security volunteers are a very effective way to provide ambassadors for your site, make visitors feel welcome and deter potential attackers who may be planning to attack your location.
5) Have a scenario evening to run through drills and responses so everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities.
6) Ensure you have a trauma kit, AED, Stop the Bleed and fire suppression devices on site.
Identify who is trained, certified and experienced to administer medical assistance.
7) Get a solid security assessment that identifies your strengths and weaknesses and best
responses to security and medical emergencies.
8) Identify a clearly recognizable point person (staff, security or law enforcement) to notify about
any suspicious behavior or items and they can then take appropriate action. Everyone can
be made to be a trained observer.
9) Check the camera systems, outdoor lighting, fire and security alarms are in good working order.
10) Have a megaphone or PA system to alert your site of a security emergency and to activate
appropriate drilled emergency responses.
11) Check door locks and consider installing low cost lockdown devices to isolate the progress
of an attacker
12) Patrol outside – keep problems outside and create deterrence by having visible patrols.
13) Use vehicles as a barrier in case of accidental or intentional ramming especially if shul
members or students congregate outside.
14) Ensure you have the ability to call 911 for medical or security emergencies during yom tov
days and Shabbat
15) Publicly thank volunteers, security and the police department. Make sure they get a coffee,
cold water or a treat while on duty.
Zalman Myer-Smith is the Director Of Chabad of Florida Security Department and Director of the Community Security Organization which focuses on liaising, training, and working with law enforcement agencies and serving thousands of Jewish community synagogues, schools, and centers.
Disclaimer – This document is for informational purposes only. The reader or user of this guide must seek their own legal and insurance advice to see if the suggested guidance is approved.