Louisville’s Jewish Community Center was the target of a bomb threat and had to be evacuated recently.
The threat appears to be part of a recent wave of threats and vandalism aimed at Jewish organizations. Since the first of the year, at least 134 bomb threats have been made against 100 locations across the country. Targets include Jewish Community Centers, schools and offices of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish Community Center of Louisville is a vital part of the community, hosting an array of recreational opportunities ranging from swimming classes to art classes to theatre productions. The activities are open to all.
Why would anyone target such an institution?
It’s actually not unusual for religiously-affiliated institutions to be targets of violence and threats. Some are targeted for their beliefs, ethnic or religious makeup. Some are targeted because they are open and accessible by design, so it’s easy for those who wish to do harm to gain entry. Some are simply caught up as collateral damage in situations of domestic violence.
What can religiously-affiliated organizations do to protect themselves and the communities they serve? Here are a few ideas:
Gather stakeholders. Bring together organizational leaders, key staff, community members, legal counsel, insurance representatives and law enforcement. It is important to have a variety of perspectives represented; the different points of view will help you balance addressing risks with the purpose of your organization.
Assess potential threats. Think as comprehensively as possible about risks, which may include bomb threats, active shooters, vandalism, arson or more.
Develop response plans. Local law enforcement and insurance companies may be a good resource here, as well as your facilities maintenance team. Once you’ve developed response plans, communicate them appropriately. Hold regular emergency response training and drills, and distribute plans among key staff members in several locations.
Evaluate monitoring and response systems. Is your security system adequate and up to date? Are cameras, alarms and other elements fully integrated and securely accessible from remote locations? Should your facility consider a shot detection system that automatically detects gun shots and alerts first responders?
ECT Services can help you evaluate your security monitoring and response systems. Call us at (800) 567-1180 for details.