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What an exciting start to the year for our community!
As many of you know, last year Jewish Federation hired Daniel Heydenrych-Davis for the newly created positioned of director of security, marking our organization’s single most important investment to date in the ongoing safety of our community and its institutions.
In the six months since Daniel joined us, we have already made significant progress towards our key priorities:
Cultivating relationships with local Jewish organizations, law enforcement agencies, and other strategic partners.
Daniel has already met with 18 local Jewish organizations, including synagogues, day schools, community centers, Jewish Family Services and the Louis Brier Home & Hospital. These visits have been focused on introducing Daniel and enabling him to review / provide guidance on each organization’s unique security situation. Daniel has also been working with local Jewish organizations that expressed interest in submitting applications for federal government Security Infrastructure Program grants, which, if successful, would provide funding for equipment, training, and other security upgrades.
Daniel is also deepening Jewish Federation’s relationships with local and regional law enforcement agencies. He has proposed the formation of a Community Security Working Group, which would comprise representatives from the local policing community and other minority groups around the region. The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has already committed to leading this initiative, and the Jewish Federation looks forward to hosting the first session of this working group in Q2 2018.
Facilitating the delivery of training and educational workshops focused on security preparedness for our community institutions.
In February 2018, our committee coordinated a VPD training session for front office staff of local Jewish organizations, who learned how to respond to and report suspicious behavior, identify potential suspects, as well as handle suspicious packages, mail and threatening phone calls or emails. A second training session – focused on hate crimes, sexual assault, and general safety and security practices – was held last week.
Overall, dozens of community members have already participated in or are registered for these sessions, and the goal is to offer bi-monthly workshops on relevant topics as well as deliver on-site sessions for staff and boards, focused on their unique security considerations.
Daniel has also identified and begun development of more than 30 different training modules that will help establish a broad, fundamental base of knowledge around basic security concepts for the future volunteer network (see next priority). In January, 2018, our committee also developed a primer on cybersecurity that was distributed to all local Jewish agencies.
Cultivating a volunteer network to help enhance security preparedness of local institutions, especially around major community events.
A working group has been formed to support Daniel in the creation of a volunteer community security network. Together, they will be approaching Jewish organizations directly to gauge their interest and solicit feedback, outline the vision for the volunteer network, and develop a community-wide approach for recruiting and training volunteers.
The security events sub-committee provided volunteer security support until Daniel was hired, and a special thanks goes to those volunteers under the leadership of Eli Mann who personally spent many hours planning and providing security for high-profile community events.
Our community is starting to show real awareness of the importance of security: a few local organizations already have volunteer security teams in place. In March 2018, the advisory committee received a presentation from volunteer team members at Schara Tzedek Synagogue, which provided an overview of their operating model and the impressive set of protocols and procedures already in place at that organization.
Providing leadership and reactive support around incidents or issues of concern impacting our community.
In addition to working proactively towards our goals, our committee has remained nimble and engaged on reactive opportunities and challenges. For example, we were engaged to help formulate a response to last year’s wave of hate mail targeting Jewish organizations across North America, including several in Vancouver, as well as to a security breach that occurred at one of our local institutions. Daniel also maintains an ongoing liaison with law enforcement departments focused on hate crimes to facilitate information sharing as well as training and resourcing opportunities.
In short, it’s been a busy few months with substantial progress on all fronts.
We greatly appreciate the interest and support that we have received to date from members across the community, and want to extend a special thanks to Jewish Federation’s donors, whose generosity is already making our entire community that much safer and more secure.
Wishing you all a chag sameach v’kasher,