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CSI Update: Our 4th Annual Safety and Security Conference

Earlier this month, our Federation’s Community Security Initiative (CSI) held its fourth annual Safety and Security Conference. This program brought together a host of professionals from the Jewish community and law enforcement.

Attended by over 100 staff, leaders from local synagogues, schools and Jewish organizations, the conference kicked off with opening remarks from our Director of Community Security, Jason Periard.  The Federation’s Chief Operating and Financial Officer Ivan Wolkind also took the podium, offering a background on the importance of the conference, and overviewing why it’s important to get our Jewish leaders and law enforcement professionals together.

Senior Researcher with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Co-Director of the Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, Rick Eaton, gave the keynote address.  Mr. Eaton’s presentation took the audience through the history of hate on the Internet and the various techniques and tactics employed by those who would seek to do harm to the Jewish community.  Mr. Eaton also spoke from his personal experience researching, investigating and even openly engaging these hate groups over many years for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  Mr. Eaton related, “Threats to Jews and the Jewish community appear online on a daily basis.  They are part of the 21st-century environment we find ourselves in. Threats don’t come gift-wrapped with target information or when the attacks will occur. They are designed to inspire others to take action at the time and place of their choosing.  For this reason, security is not just for special occasions or when convenient.”  He ended the event reminding us that “seeking an evaluation and implementing a plan initiated by CSI is a must for those in the local Jewish community.”

Following Mr. Eaton’s impactful brief, participants dispersed to several available security workshops.  Sessions included:

  • Protecting Your Facility from Cyber Attacks with Supervisory Special Agent Michael Sohn from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office
  • Preparing a Law Enforcement Response Kit with Officer Ebrahim Ashabi from the Beverly Hills Police Department’s SWAT team
  • Blast Effects and Mitigation Techniques with Narbeh Hartoonian, Explosives Specialist, for DHS/TSA
  • Executive Director’s “Round Table” with Ivan Wolkind, Federation’s COO/CFO and Jason Periard, Director of Community Security

The afternoon closed with a sobering case study of Sandy Hook Elementary School, given by Lieutenant Mark Van Holt, Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department.  Lieutenant Van Holt was responsible for taking a small delegation of California police officers to Newtown, Connecticut, only days after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  Since returning from Newtown, Lieutenant Van Holt has presented his “Lessons Learned – The Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy” to countless police departments, fire departments, school districts, public agencies and private sector groups.

Through these interactive break-out sessions, leaders from different organizations got to know one another, learn from each other and gain important skills that will ultimately help our Jewish community better prepare for any emergency situations that may arise.

This annual conference is just one of the many ways our Federation’s Community Security Initiative is keeping our local Jewish community safe and up to date on best practices for emergency situations.

Launched in 2012, our Federation’s Community Security Initiative partners with local, state and federal agencies to assure the safety and security of all Jewish institutions in greater Los Angeles. CSI links institutions to a network of Jewish communal organizations and provides site assessments, emergency and disaster training, and special events that ensure that if a threat arises for any one location, we are all prepared.

For more information about CSI, please contact Jason Periard at CSI@JewishLA.org.


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