Community Remains Vigilant in Wake of Oct. 7 Attack

Tags: Federation, Security

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A man walks on South Green Road in Beachwood under the watchful eyes of a Beachwood police officer on patrol in front of Green Road Synagogue. CJN photo / Bob Jacob


Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

With antisemitic incidents on the rise, especially since the Oct. 7 Hamas surprise attack on Israel, the Northeast Ohio Jewish community and local law enforcement have remained on high alert.

Several incidents have been reported in the area, including finding anti-Israel and antisemitic vandalism at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Brooklyn, and threatening phone calls made to Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights and a Beachwood City Schools administrator.

As such, JFC Security, LLC, the security provider for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood, has remained in daily contact with federal, state and local law enforcement partners, Jim Hartnett, director of community-wide security, told the Cleveland Jewish News.

“The one important outcome of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is that community members are now paying closer attention to their surroundings and reporting suspicious incidents in greater numbers so that both law enforcement and JFC Security can quickly respond with the appropriate investigative follow up,” Hartnett said. “This has led to numerous incidents that were previously deemed to be suspicious to being cleared as a non-threat once a systematic examination of the facts was completed.”

While there have been incidents of antisemitic graffiti and nuisance telephone calls, he said there have been no known credible threats made toward the Cleveland Jewish community. But he urged community members to continue reporting suspicious activity as soon as possible.

“I would encourage community members to be always watchful and on heightened alert for anything out of place. Keep reporting,” Hartnett said. “Even if they’re unsure – let us make that decision. If you see something that just seems out of the ordinary or unnerving, your first call should be to 911, to the police and then to JFC Security to make sure we follow up together.”

If you encounter an antisemitic incident and it is safe to do so, Hartnett suggested taking photos or a video on your phone of the person and/or vehicle license plate. However, if you don’t feel safe, do not approach an unknown individual or potential hostile situation. He also encouraged institutions to continue to monitor access control, or who they let into a building.

“Do not hesitate to deny suspicious individuals access to your facility if you don’t feel comfortable with their explanation for being there,” he said. “Always keep doors used to enter your facility locked and secured at all times. One door propped open can defeat a million-dollar security system and put every member of your facility at risk.”

JFC Security also offers community-based training throughout the year and to institutions upon requests, which Hartnett encouraged people to take advantage of. Currently in the works is a town hall-style security briefing for the Jewish community to receive safety recommendations from the FBI, local law enforcement and JFC Security, he said.

To schedule a training session for an institution, call the JFC security desk at 216-593-2929.

Over the last month, the CJN asked local police departments in communities with Jewish institutions about what incidents they have seen locally and how they are keeping the Jewish community safe.


There has been one antisemitic incident reported to police in the city of Beachwood since Oct. 7, which was a voicemail left on a Beachwood City Schools administrators’ phone on Oct. 30, Beachwood Police Chief Katherine McLaughlin told the CJN.

Hartnett told the CJN that on Nov. 10, JFC Security was notified by the Beachwood Police Department and alerted the Cleveland office of the FBI, as the incident is being investigated. They have also reviewed current security protocols with the officer in charge of school security.

Beachwood police also assisted with security and had a police presence at different vigils and events at synagogues and religious institutions that were planned in response to the war.

“We’ve had special attention across the board to the entire city as well as all of our specific synagogue and religious institutions,” McLaughlin said. “In addition to that, I’ve been continuously working with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. We’re in constant communication sharing different things.”

The Beachwood Police Department works closely with the surrounding cities, including Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid and Shaker Heights, and McLaughlin is in constant contact with the chiefs, she said.

“We’ve been very lucky the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department has been extremely helpful over the past several weeks in providing additional patrol for us when we’ve had events and things going on in the city that requires some additional attention,” McLaughlin said.

Some residents have called when they see something that could be suspicious, but all have checked out to be OK, she added.

For Beachwood’s non-emergency line, call 216-464-1234. Dial 911 for immediate threats.


For the Cleveland Division of Police, antisemitic reports have not increased since Oct. 7, Sgt. Wilfredo Diaz, public information officer, told the CJN.

Out of the city’s five neighborhood districts, three antisemitic reports, mostly verbal and resulting in zero injuries, were made during the month of October.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say an increase,” Diaz said.

According to review of a police report, an incident of ethnic intimidation took place at 3:33 p.m. on Oct. 11 at 530 Euclid Ave. in downtown Cleveland.

Another report was made on Oct. 23. The public records request made by the CJN in regard to it on Nov. 13 has not been answered as of Nov. 29.

A hate crime was reported at 1:52 p.m. on Oct. 25 at 11702 Superior Ave. on the east side of Cleveland, according to review of another police report.

The Cleveland Division of Police is continuously monitoring potential threats using intel from law enforcement agencies locally and federally, Diaz said.

“If we are made aware of any information that may cause concern or hazard to the safety of our community we would respond appropriately as necessary, so that could include special attention to certain areas, plain clothes investigators or something to that effect,” he said.

Special patrol or attention to religious organizations, schools and businesses can be provided upon request to the non-emergency phone number, 216-621-1234, Diaz said.

The Cleveland Division of Police is routinely trained on and refreshed on ethnic intimidation, hate crimes and bias policing, he said.

If someone is a victim of an antisemitic crime, Diaz encouraged reporting it by calling the non-emergency number, or 911 depending on the situation, or visiting one of Cleveland’s police departments.

“That’s usually the first step we recommend for many reasons (including) follow-up investigation, tracking purposes, sharing information, so if there’s maybe a pattern or if there’s an individual in specific that maybe is doing this, it makes us a little bit more capable of tracking down and identifying whoever may be involved,” Diaz said.

Especially today, it is important for the Cleveland Division of Police to be made aware of anything incident related to hate or ethnic intimidation as soon as possible, he said.

“Our goal is to provide a safe environment for our community,” Diaz said.

Cleveland Heights

There have been no reports of antisemitic incidents in Cleveland Heights since Oct. 7, Cleveland Heights Police Chief Chris Britton told the CJN. The police department is on a higher alert status and has increased patrols in areas with synagogues and Jewish facilities.

The department is working with local, state and federal agencies, as well as the Federation and other community leaders, Britton said.

If someone is a victim of antisemitism, they should call 911 if there’s an immediate threat to someone’s personal safety, along with contacting the police department’s dispatch center to file a report.

For the non-emergency line, call 216-321-1234.

Mayfield Heights

The Mayfield Heights Police Department has increased its patrols at Temple Israel Ner Tamid, the only Jewish temple in its city limits, during service hours and events, Police Chief Anthony Mele said.

At 7:55 p.m. Nov. 3, the department received a report from Temple Israel Ner Tamid about a swatting call, according to a Mayfield Heights Police Department call summary. An officer was already on site and extra patrols were requested, Mele said.

“We are monitoring the situation in Israel and the atmosphere in the United States around the Jewish population,” he told the CJN Nov. 2. “(The patrols at TINT are) going to be indefinite at this point.”

The police department receives updates from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the FBI and responds accordingly to any call to action, Mele said.

He suggested people that find themselves involved in an antisemitic incident call the police department.

“We are aware of the current situation and take it seriously,” he said. “We encourage people to advise us and then we can investigate.”

For the non-emergency line, call 440-442-2323. Dial 911 for immediate threats.


The Orange Police Department has made changes to its patrols and is aware of the importance of protecting its community, Police Chief Chris Kostura told the CJN. The department has seen no antisemitic incidents since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, he said.

It is working with the Federation and other local police departments to remain aware of any incidents, he said.

“We are all staying alert and paying attention,” Kostura said.

He recommended victims of a hate crime report their experience to the police to get the assistance needed.

For the non-emergency line, call 440-247-7321. Dial 911 for immediate threats.

Pepper Pike

The Pepper Pike Police Department has been on high alert for hate crimes and antisemitic incidents since Oct. 7, said Police Chief Karl Dietz, but has not received any such incident reports.

“The department is paying attention to current events and trends within the city, as well as sharing information received from the Jewish Federation about perceived or credible threats,” Dietz told the CJN.

The department has received increased requests from synagogues in the area for additional off-duty security and will continue to make the institutions a priority, he said.

Dietz recommended anyone finding themselves to be the victim of a hate crime should immediately call the police department.

For the non-emergency line, call 216-831-1424. Dial 911 for immediate threats.


The Solon Police Department is paying special attention to any and all incidents of antisemitism that may be reported in the city and increasing the situational awareness of its officers, Lt. Bill Vajdich told the CJN. The city hasn’t experienced any reported incidents of antisemitic hate crimes since Oct. 7, he said.

The department is working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federation to ensure the safety of those attending religious institutions in the city.

“We want everybody that lives in Solon, works in Solon, celebrates their faith in Solon to understand that we’re paying attention to this and our officers are up to speed on what’s going on,” Vajdich said. “We want people to feel safe and be safe in Solon.”

If someone believes they are a victim of a hate crime, he recommends they call and make a police report so they can receive the assistance they need.

For the non-emergency line, call 440-248-1234. Dial 911 for immediate threats.

South Euclid

There have been no antisemitic incident reports, said South Euclid Police Chief Joseph Mays, but police heightened their alert status surrounding Jewish institutions as of Oct. 7.

“This means that our officers have increased their patrols in and around those areas that are frequented by the Jewish population,” he wrote in an email to the CJN. “... The principal behind this strategy is to allocate resources to areas with higher crime rates in order to deter additional crimes. Although the target in this instance is not a high crime area, the goal of detection and prevention is the same.”

Having the heightened alert status leads officers to notice unusual or suspicious behavior, he wrote.

“For example, an officer might normally drive past a large truck parked near a Jewish store assuming that it is making a delivery,” Mays wrote. “A heightened alert means that the officer will stop and investigate exactly why the truck is there.”

The police will have increased patrols for an undetermined amount of time, he wrote.

South Euclid is a member of the Eastside Department Group Enforcement which includes Beachwood, Bratenahl, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and University Heights. The group meets regularly and shares information, he wrote.

South Euclid also works with private partners, including the Federation, Mays wrote.

Before Oct. 7, E.D.G.E and other local law enforcement were invited by JFC Security to a conference featuring Michael Masters, the national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network, the official Homeland Security and safety organization of the Jewish Federations of North America, Mays wrote.

“This meeting took place prior to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel which is a testament to our ongoing commitment to the sharing of information and intelligence,” he wrote to the CJN.

The city has also been receiving regular security updates from the FBI and the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center, he wrote.

Residents are encouraged to say something if they see something that seems off.

“The police cannot be everywhere at the same time,” Mays wrote. “We rely on our residents to help us detect suspicious activity. Don’t overthink things and trust your gut. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Call us and let us sort it out, that’s why we’re here.”

For the non-emergency line, call 216-926-5030. Dial 911 for immediate threats.

Shaker Heights

Since Oct. 7, the Shaker Heights Police Department received one report of vandalism, Shaker Heights Police Chief Wayne D. Hudson wrote in an email to the CJN. That incident is under investigation and no more information can be released, Hudson wrote.

The police department is “ever vigilant and mindful of the situation occurring in the Middle East,” he wrote.

He said they are working closely with federal, state and local partners to ensure the safety and security of the community.

Residents or people who visit or work in Shaker Heights are encouraged to report any crimes that occur in the city along with notifying police of any concerning or suspicious activity.

“Working together, we will continue to make this a very safe city to live, work and visit,” Hudson wrote.

For the non-emergency line, call 216-491-1220. Dial 911 for immediate threats.

University Heights

There have been no reports of antisemitic or hate crimes to the University Heights Police since Oct. 7, said Lt. Todd Kinley.

“University Heights Police Department continues to operate as we have in the past with regards to our alert status and our patrolling of Jewish institutions and neighborhoods,” Kinley wrote in an email to the CJN.

The department works closely with local, state, federal and JFC Security partners to monitor intelligence as well as provide additional security to those who request it by hiring off-duty officer when desired, he said. The police department has and will continue to investigate any report of a hate crime or antisemitism, and will follow up accordingly, he added.

For the non-emergency line, call 216-932-1800. Dial 911 for immediate threats.

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