Federation Unveils Security Vehicle
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Published with permission from the Cleveland Jewish News
By Kristen Mott, CJN Staff Reporter
Security is a top priority in the Jewish community and it has become a growing concern as anti-Semitic and terror attacks take place around the world. To strengthen security within the local community, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland has acquired a mobile patrol unit.
“We knew we wanted to have a mobile presence from the beginning when we enhanced the security this past summer,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. “There was a plan for the ability to have a more mobile response. This vehicle gives us increased options to project a security presence.”
The mobile patrol unit, which was donated by Kia of Bedford, will be deployed at different times throughout the day to survey neighborhoods. The vehicle also can be requested by agencies, synagogues and schools that are hosting special events.
“We’re looking at more control,” said Jim Hartnett, director of security at the Federation. “The police do a great job. They support us and try to be at our agencies when we request it, but they can’t be there constantly. This vehicle is something we can mobilize to get somewhere quickly for a heightened security presence.”
Bart Bookatz, president of Berkowitz-Kumin-Bookatz Memorial Chapel in Cleveland Heights and chair of the security committee for the Federation’s board of trustees, said one of the goals of the 2014 Campaign for Jewish Needs was to raise funds to heighten security.
“A year-and-a-half ago, the Federation looked at its security and decided that in today’s environment we needed to raise what we offered to our community and an assurance that people are safe to attend events and use our facilities,” Bookatz said.
After the Federation hired former FBI agent Hartnett as director of security, he began to review what the Federation’s security plan looked like. Hartnett, along with Hoffman and Oren Baratz, vice president of external affairs for the Federation, took the necessary steps to assure that community members would be safe.
“Situations in the past decade have changed. We as a Federation have to be a part of that change and have to provide our community with the security that’s now required,” Bookatz said.
The Federation will design a protocol to determine when and where the mobile patrol unit will be deployed. The protocol will be monitored and adjusted as needed, Hartnett said. Leaders of the Federation will communicate with heads of local organizations and schools about the vehicle and how it will be used in the community.
Unlike other federations that hire a private security company to operate the vehicle, the Federation will be using a local off-duty policeman. “It’s a unique situation. We’re going to train and pick the appropriate person who we feel best meets our need security-wise in the community,” Hartnett said.
Baratz said the Federation’s entire security concept has changed since Hartnett was hired.
“We’ve engaged in all kinds of security measures,” Baratz said. “One of them was the concept to provide off-duty police officers in schools. Part of that concept was also to have a mobile patrol unit out in the community. This is another layer of security that allows us to be at different places at different times.”
Increasing security presence can sometimes arouse fear or worry in individuals. Hoffman said the greatest issue the Federation has faced with enhancing security is balancing finances and gauging how people in the community will view the vehicle.
“Will you make people nervous by the fact that you’re putting security procedures into place? My experience is that most people welcome security procedures that are properly carried our rather than scaring people off,” Hoffman said.
“Since Sept. 11, 2001, people are more conscious. Synagogues, Jewish agencies and schools look at security as something that’s necessary.”
Although the Federation is increasing its security measures, Hartnett stressed the need for community members to remain observant when out in public and the importance of teaching people how to report possible suspicious activity.
“If there’s one thing we want to press upon members of the community it’s that they have to take security seriously and they have to be more observant and have to know the right forum to report things that they just don’t feel comfortable with,” he said.
“This is more of us creating a culture of security by educating and empowering the community to make them feel that they have the skills to detect and note possible suspicious activity and report it so it’s quickly addressed.”