US Jewish communities test emergency system

Integrated rapid-response system is designed to allow communications during times of emergency, share security information on an ongoing basis.

security guard 88 224 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
security guard 88 224
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
In the wake of ongoing terror threats to Jewish targets around the world, representatives of American Jewish communities are now testing an integrated rapid-response system designed to allow communications during times of emergency and to share security information on an ongoing basis. The Secure Community Network (SCN) program is being run under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and was launched in 2003 in cooperation with the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI). As part of the initiative, representatives of US Jewish communities recently held a meeting with JPPPI officials aimed at enhancing the relationship between the two parties. The SCN was founded after the JPPPI highlighted a need to create a program for emergency management, communications and response to serve America's Jewish community. "The JPPPI looked at professional aspects regarding preparedness, coping and reconstruction in the context of crisis management," said Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Director of the JPPPI. The JPPPI and the Jewish Agency have encouraged US and European Jewish communities to set up their own emergency communications and response programs out of a sense that "all Israel is responsible, each for the other," Bar-Yosef added. Through SCN, the organized Jewish community has established a coordinated approach to critical security needs, including proactive planning and establishing common standards for improving security at the national and local levels. SCN offers expertise, guidance and assistance to Jewish organizations and institutions on protection against terrorism and other threats. There is also a crisis communication system that allows the rapid dissemination of critical information to all SCN members. SCN maintains close working relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, intelligence and counter-terrorism units. For example, it receives regular notices of security alerts from the Department of Homeland Security. It also gives member communities information on how to obtain grants from the department for security projects. In addition, SCN maintains contact with major Jewish communities worldwide to share information and experience and to maximize resources. The SCN Web site gives tips on a wide variety of security issues, such as school security and travel safety. It tells readers how to recognize "seven signs of terrorist activity," including the surveillance of a target before an attack and attempts by suspected terrorists to elicit information. European equivalents of SCN receive alerts from European law enforcement agencies.