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Efforts to protect the Jewish community continue in the wake of the shootings of two Jewish men in February in the Pico-Robertson District.
The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion on March 14 authored by Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, 5th District, calling for a report back from city departments on ways hate crimes are addressed, including further recommendations for prevention. The council is expected to soon consider another Yaroslavsky motion that would provide $150,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for its ongoing security initiatives.
“[Last year] has already broken the record for the highest number of hate crimes reported in Los Angeles history. Since then, the situation has only continued to worsen. As you all know, a month ago, an armed gunman targeted Jewish communities in the 5th Council District and opened fire on two Jewish men leaving shul in broad daylight,” Yaroslavsky said when the first motion was approved. “These attacks and others underscore what most Jews in Los Angeles already know and feel. The other day, I was dropping off my son at his Jewish elementary school and I spoke to a parent who told me she was terrified for her and her child’s safety. This is common now. All of our communities deserve to feel safe and we all deserve to feel like we belong.”
Jaime Tran, the suspect accused of shooting the two Jewish Men in February, was arrested shortly after the alleged crimes. Tran remains in federal custody without bond. The defendant, a former Riverside resident, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crimes and firearms charges and is expected to next appear in court on April 11.
Shortly after the arrest, the Jewish Federation held a town hall meeting with government officials and community members to allay fears and discuss ways to address
Yaroslavsky announced she planned to introduce a motion to help bolster the Jewish Federation’s security initiative. The motion is expected to be considered by the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee next, and afterwards will return to the full City Council.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles launched its Community Security Initiative in 2012 to provide support for Jewish institutions, and currently serves more than 600 temples, schools and other Jewish institutions in a 1,450-square-mile area throughout Los Angeles County. The program helps the institutions protect themselves by offering a multi-faceted approach to security, said Joanna Mendelson, senior vice president of community engagement for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
“The federation serves as the nervous system for the Jewish community. Through our various strategic initiatives, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles cares for the overall well-being of the Jewish community, and with the backdrop of record levels of antisemitism, this also includes caring for our security,” Mendelson said.
The federation offers a three-pronged approach to security that includes site visits and vulnerability assessments, training and information sharing-intelligence analysis. The federation self-funds the security program, which costs nearly $1-million per year, and the services are provided free to institutions.
The site assessments help institutions determine what steps are needed to enhance security, and experts make recommendations for improvements. Multiple training events are offered throughout the year. The federation hosts an annual Safety and Security Conference offering information from security experts. The program offers training in situational awareness, empowering staff, volunteers and congregants to recognize and report suspicious activities before an incident occurs. Training is also offered to security professionals who work at Jewish institutions.
Another important component is information sharing and intelligence gathering. The federation offers a 24-hour center to analyze and monitor threats, and staff has direct connections to law enforcement and government agencies.
Mendelson said the security initiative demonstrates that the Jewish community is protected. She said recent hate crimes have sparked fear among members of the community, and it’s important for them to know there is support in place.
“There is a pervasive fear within the community. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen an increase, everyone is just a person away from an incident or from something that occurred that causes us to pause and feel fear, feel that concern,” she said. “Knowing that our leaders have a blueprint to address this action, not just our elected leaders and law enforcement, how we’re collecting this data and how we’re mobilizing resources, is a way to offer reassurance.”overall well-being of the Jewish community, and with the backdrop of record levels of antisemitism, this also includes caring for our security,” Mendelson said.
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