The Secure Community Network (SCN), in partnership with The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra, held its inaugural conference, “Safe & Secure? Empowering Communities after Pittsburgh & Poway,” on May 30. Over 200 people from 13 states attended throughout the day and evening sessions in Baltimore. The conference primarily recruited participants from the mid-Atlantic region, but attendees came from as far as Arizona, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Canada.
The conference addressed lay leaders of schools, shuls, and camps, along with business owners, congregants, and employees. Several elected officials spoke at the conference, including Baltimore County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszweski; Maryland State Delegates Sandy Rosenberg and Dalya Attar; and Councilmembers Izzy Patoka and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer. Several local law enforcement agencies also participated in the conference.
“The North American Jewish community needs guidance and education in best practices and standards when it comes to protecting their institutions and places of business,” said Michael Masters, SCN’s national director and CEO. “This conference offered crucial training and practical resources specifically on how to do that. The overwhelming and positive response we received from those that attended confirmed this vital need.”
The active threat response training encouraged people to constantly remain alert and provided simple survival strategies such as always being aware of exits when entering a building. Interactive sessions included workshops on security planning, evacuations, and lockdowns. At the Stop the Bleed® training, attendees learned the proper use of tourniquets and other methods to prevent blood loss in the event someone is bleeding out.
“I have attended many security trainings and workshops, yet the information learned today is invaluable,” said Steven Shulman, senior vice president of corporate affairs for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. Attendees walked away feeling significantly more knowledgeable about implementing new or additional security measures and methods. Shulman said the conference was “absolutely” worth the trip from Canada.
“I never doubted for a minute that the content shared by the highly skilled and experienced lecturers would leave a lasting impression on all those that attended,” said Frank Storch, director of The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra. “The Secure Community Network is an incredible and vital organization focused specifically on our community’s security. It was a privilege to work with such a professional and knowledgeable team. They are the best resource the Jewish community has and if every shuls, school, and camp is not reaching out to them, it is a tremendous loss and risk to the congregants, students, and campers under their care."
On the heels of the success of this conference, the Secure Community Network plans to replicate the conference in other regions in the future. Videotaped sessions are available on securecommunitynetwork.org and chesedfund.com.