A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
PROTECTING OUR VIBRANT RELIGIOUS AND COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS
Fifteen years ago this month, our country endured the unimaginable. The terror attacks of 9/11 were an assault on each and every one of us—and forever changed the way we go about our lives. As we remember the nearly 3,000 innocent souls who perished that fateful day, we also must look toward the future and closer to home.
While law enforcement agencies throughout the country have had incredible success in preventing another 9/11 and large-scale attack from occurring at American landmarks, we continue to face mounting security concerns at our soft targets—especially our vital houses of worship and lively community centers.
Sadly, these important institutions, because of their very welcoming and open-door nature, face special security risks each and every day. These foundations of a civil and enlightened society have tragically become targets for individuals and groups who are intent on seeking to inflict harm, either because they are fueled by hate or suffering from mental illness.
From the deplorable church shooting in Charleston, S.C., to the relentless threats against synagogues and mosques, to the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, heinous attacks of terror and hate have become far too common. In light of these recent events, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, hosted its Annual Security Conference last month to combat the rash of attacks and threats proactively. By working closely together with BSO and security experts, these important houses of worship and community centers can better protect their institutions and congregations.
The exchange of information with the community is an integral aspect of our security goals. The best defense in keeping us safe is a good offense. By providing practical security information, attendees are empowered with the knowledge necessary to keep their institutions secure. By understanding that security is an ongoing commitment and something on the forefront of their minds at all times, institutions can better balance their openness with safety.
At this year’s conference, scores of law enforcement officers and representatives from dozens of synagogues, churches, mosques, and other religious institutions and community centers came out to learn how to build a culture of security 24/7. BSO officials and private security professionals also provided vital security information, including preparing for an active shooter situation, and critical safety recommendations to keep all citizens safe.
Securing religious institutions and community centers is not a new concern for me. From the moment I became Sheriff, my number one priority has been aimed at keeping our diverse communities safe. In recent years, the Annual Security Conference, originally aimed at Jewish synagogues to address safety concerns during the high holy days, has grown to encompass all religions and walks of life.
As always, I urge the community to remain vigilant. If you see something out of the ordinary, say something so BSO can respond to it. Remember, you are not alone. We are all united in this quest for peace.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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