Coronavirus: Stopping the new intruder – opinion

Combating the coronavirus in Jewish communities

PLANNING FOR the long term: Make arrangements for deliveries. (photo credit: REUTERS)
PLANNING FOR the long term: Make arrangements for deliveries.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jewish Community faces a new intruder. This time, it’s not armed, but it’s just as deadly. I’m talking about coronavirus.
Thankfully, many of the actions and the security-oriented mindset which Jewish organizations have adopted to better provide physical security mean we can be in a good position to resist this latest threat.
As the official security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Secure Community Network (SCN) works around the clock to secure the safety and security of all Jewish communities in North America. A non-profit organization, SCN employs former and current military, law enforcement and homeland security experts to empower individuals and organizations with the knowledge, skills and resources to become more secure.
Whether the threat is physical violence or a deadly disease, there are steps Jewish facilities, even those that are closing, can take to make certain they are as safe as possible.
Many Federations and Jewish charities operate out of buildings or campuses where space is shared. To protect the health of those who live in areas where they can still show up to work, it is vital that every building have a plan in place to provide full cleaning services. If there is any doubt about the quality of the cleaning program, shut down your office. It’s just not worth it.
If work is essential, minimize on-staff needs. It’s not easy to decide who is essential and who can work from home, but it’s a decision that leaders must make.
If a facility is going to be closed, be certain doors and windows are secured. If you cannot have ongoing security or facilities staff present, designate a staff member to regularly check the facility to be sure all is in order. Leave on some lights (and change which ones, regularly), be certain alarms are active, be able to access alarm and camera systems remotely and take notes in case you observe something unusual. Those notes might come in handy.
Make arrangements for deliveries. A pile-up of packages is a visible sign to a robber that it’s safe to break into your place.
Finally, notify local law enforcement so they know you’re closed and can keep a closer eye on your building. You should also alert your insurance carrier to avoid a problem that closing may have on coverage or liability.
If staff are teleworking, ensure you have ways to communicate with them.
For those working from home, your biggest threat is cyber. Are your systems safe from hackers, scammers and phishers?
Businesses with large numbers of people at home need to pay attention to this cyber threat. Be sure every employee’s anti-virus software is up to date. If you don’t already use two-factor authentication, implement it now. For charitable groups, contact your online donation platforms and discuss with them if there are ways to enhance the security and safety of your efforts.
Now is also a good time for your IT leader to hold a group phone call to discuss in more detail how workers at home can be wise to phishing scams and other attempts by criminals to take advantage of this situation.
Much like an active shooter threat, communities must plan for and practice responding to all threats, even coronavirus. Now, however, it is time to get the implementation right.
Coronavirus is not a gunman aiming to take the lives of innocent people. But it is an intruder that has the potential to harm, kill or rob members of our community. Unlike a gunman, this enemy does not discriminate, and it attacks quietly – often without someone knowing it.
That said, we must approach this threat in the same manner that we would a violent attack. Establishing effective and secure communication and implementing the security measures above is the right way to handle this.
Our community knows what a plague is. We also know how to survive this.
The writer is a homeland security and law enforcement official, a former captain in the Marine Corps, and the national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network. A certified police officer, he is trained in special weapons and tactics (SWAT) and he has served on numerous task forces for the Department of Homeland Security. He previously served on the executive board of the FBI’s Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force.