July 1, 2019
Threats and hateful comments against Jews, people of color, and certain ethnic groups are deeply disturbing. These days there is no way to take in the news without getting concerned for the safety of our community. Emanu-El actively monitors potential threats and takes action to increase security accordingly. We hope this article provides some background on our efforts and recent changes.
Our security is focussed on “continuous improvement.” We do not wait for emergency events to upgrade our systems. People and systems are in place to monitor processes daily, and many of these improvements are made in the stream of continual oversight, versus in reaction to events. We frequently adjust our security procedures to meet specific situations. Quite simply, there is no one “best way.” Different tactics work better in different situations. We routinely conduct security reviews and make adjustments as situations warrant.
We improved our security stance over the past decade in response to the changing environment. The number of anti-Semitic incidents has increased since 2009, and particularly since 2015 (ADL, Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents 2018). While the percentage of incidents that results in assaults is small (less than 2% of the total), we are doing our best to ensure that no harm comes to anyone at Emanu-El. Key improvements include additional guards, doubling our annual budget for security, making a seven-figure investment in the building and technology, more active partnerships with local police and other Jewish agencies, and expanded training for staff.
We also know that security is a team effort. We work with a range of experienced security professionals to make informed decisions about what is best for our community. Our team includes the security firm that manages operations with experts from the local police, FBI, and Homeland Security. In this way, we work in concert with private security companies at the JCRC, the Federation, the ADL, and SFPD’s Jewish Community Relations Board to provide multiple layers of protection. When a potential threat arises, for example, someone locally spouting virulent anti-Semitic views on social media, Emanu-El immediately coordinates with these public and private security professionals to put safeguards in place.
Emanu-El members working in the security field also serve on our security advisory group. This group includes our precinct’s police captain and a representative from the SFFD. The Board is involved in this oversight, making strategic decisions, and supporting efforts to implement best practices.
Since the tragic Pittsburg shooting, we now use more guards out front, more often. We increased the use of enhanced bag checks, metal detector screening, and having a police presence when warranted. There are additional improvements we’ve made “under the hood” that we don’t publicize.
We also increased our staff training so that we can assist in case of an emergency. In May, the internationally recognized security experts from Gavin DeBecker provided active shooter training for all clergy and staff.
We Need Your Help
We are incredibly lucky to have access to many security experts. But creating safe space is everyone’s job.
- If you notice anything suspicious, please report it immediately to an on-site security professional.
- Ask questions. Comments and suggestions from members have always been helpful. Some ideas get implemented, often without the member realizing it. Other suggestions prove to not be the right course. In every case, we welcome suggestions. Please email us directly.
We have a responsibility to keep each other safe. Working together, we can.
|David Goldman||Lawrence Francis||Penny Mika|
|Executive Director||Director of Security||Director of Operations and Office Management|