Rethinking Security

February 2022   Keeping Connected

Hi Friends,

We are through January, and COVID numbers are dropping. I’m looking forward to possibly resuming some sort of normalcy. This month I want to talk about security.

Although we have invested quite a bit in security over the last two years, recent events in Colleyville, Texas made us once again re-think about our security system and processes we have in place.

In the week following the event, many of us on the security committee attended various webinars offered by URJ, ADL, SCN, and other organizations, pretty much summarizing what happened, who was involved, and who assisted, and providing some basics that we need to have in place. Our security committee also held a meeting two days following the event. Although we have done quite a bit in upgrading our security system over the past year or so, there is more that we need to do.

One of the biggest lessons learned we heard about from the Texas event was that the rabbi and some of the congregants had hands-on, in-person practice in these types of scenarios, role-playing, and they practiced different types of drills. My impression is that Rabbi Charlie believes this really and truly helped and was one of the #1 reasons they survived. He knew to immediately try and distract and talk to this person, to subtly move toward the exit, he knew to move chairs in front of them, and many other tactics.

We are looking into training like this at Congregation Shalom as well. We have decided to use some of our security committee budget this year to send Tim Miranda to a 2-day ALICE training course where he will leave as a certified instructor. This will allow us to train different groups within the congregation and we are lucky that Tim is willing to give up 2 days of his life and be our official trainer. Jackie Santangelo also has some experience with de-escalation strategies.  Jackie and Tim will work together to make sure we receive the training we need.

We are looking into more First Aid training. We are looking into possibly preparing short videos on different aspects of our security system for 24/7 key card holders. We are looking into maybe a new intercom in the hallway area (out of sight from the door), some more panic buttons, and maybe a special key fob system to get into the school area of the building. Some of these ideas also came out of a recent inspection done by Lt. Ahern of the Chelmsford Police Department in December, who actually said we are way ahead of other religious organizations as far as security. Obtaining some of these hardware items may also be dependent upon our ability to receive a grant.

A speaker at one of the webinars stated that the most useful thing we can all do at this moment is to urge Congress to double funding in 2022 for the federal Nonprofit Security Grants. They provided a link to make contacting your members of Congress easy.

So, there is lots going on and we cannot stop being vigilant at all times. Everyone needs to be reminded that if you are having an event at the building, you need to let the security committee know and we need to decide together what you will need for security coverage.

Please reach out and thank members of our security committee: Bob Blumstein, Liz Denly, Janet Dubner, Mitch Hyatt, Dina Katz, Eugene Katz, Norm McBride, Tim Miranda, Jackie Santangelo.

Enjoy February and stay well.