By Zalman Myer-Smith
Director Of Chabad of Florida Security Department and Director of the Community Security Organization
The horrific hate-fuelled shooting in Buffalo, NY this past Shabbos is just another shocking and stark reminder that we all have a real responsibility to ensure that our schools, shuls and centers are insulated against an active shooter attack.
Each site should have a security plan of action in place so that everyone, security, administrators, teachers, staff, students and/or shul members know their roles and responsibilities so that there is a coordinated response that will slow down the progress of an attacker and save lives.
While security implementation is a process and we can’t go into too much detail here for obvious security reasons, here are some immediate and easy items you can put into place in 36 hours or less to repel and mitigate a terror attack.
Access Control – Create one point of access that is controlled by a buzzer system or preferably manned by a security officer/off duty police or trained security volunteer. The door should be kept locked. During school arrival/departure times an additional staff person should be on the door greeting and screening.
Communications – have a radio (walkie talkie) for your outside person and administrators/staff to alert of an incident, summon 911 and activate a lockdown process to save lives and deny entry to an active shooter. Cheap radios on Amazon that work and are used at multiple sites work and are effective. Create a “calling card” that is preprinted with your address, site and directions for a dedicated staff member to call 911 in an emergency.
Perimeter – create a barrier or perimeter to make unauthorized access or an attempt to breach your site more challenging for an attacker. If you have a fence in place, check it now to see if there are holes or deficiencies in it.
Signage – order on Amazon or similar. Signs show security is in place, that trespass is prohibited etc. This won’t stop a determined attacker, but will be a deterrent in pre planning an attack on your site and will demonstrate your site is not a soft target.
Outdoor lighting – Is your site well lit or does it help someone concealed outside your location observe your site or even wait to attack? LED lighting is not expensive, motion detection with lights can be set up during the week as well.
Alarm or internal alert to lockdown – How do you alert everyone to lockdown and respond to an attacker? A PA system is great, a phone system you have that has all call is good or just putting radios in each room on a different channel can be used to alert everyone to lockdown and respond quickly to an active shooter event.
Lockdown device – costs about $60 a door, available on line and will slow down/hold back an attacker. This should be placed in rooms that students/shul members/staff can stay in until 911 is onsite and the site is made clear.
Onsite Responders – Off duty police, private security and trained armed volunteers/staff all have their advantages and disadvantages. Having none in place means you have no responder on site and once your location has been breached, the chances of casualties is multiplied. Each and every staff member is a responder and has an active role to play in delaying and defending against an attacker.
Based on initial reports from the Buffalo grocery store shooting, an on duty security officer (former police officer) was onsite and responded to the attacker but was killed himself. Firearms responses require a lot of real world training with effective scenarios to ensure judicious and speedy conclusions to an active shooter event. Just carrying a firearm and going to the shooting range means little. Additionally, what happens if your only onsite armed responder is taken out?
Please take action now to ensure your site is safe and secure and we can focus on Jewish life and living.
Zalman Myer-Smith, Director Of Chabad of Florida Security Department and Director of the Community Security Organization, 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.