BEDFORD, MA – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, in partnership with the Middlesex Community College Program on Homeland Security, hosted a House of Worship Safety Training last week for approximately 130 faith leaders, volunteers and staff members of religious institutions representing 67 faith communities, on ways they can protect their places of worship.
Recognizing that acts of violence and targeted threats aimed at religious institutions and places of worship are designed to instill fear in congregants, District Attorney Ryan stressed the importance of preparedness for staff and volunteers to take precautions to avert tragedy.
“Houses of Worship are places where everyone should expect to feel safe from intimidation and violence,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Unfortunately, we have seen acts intended to threaten and harm religious leaders and congregants of these sacred institutions and with it a tremendous growth of people across all types of workplaces coming to us looking to get educated. One of the common trends in these trainings is the highlighting the importance of collaboration with law enforcement and community leaders. I want to thank all of our speakers as well as members of the religious community, who not only attended this conference, but also engaged in meaningful dialogue about the unique challenges faith leaders encounter when working to create a balance between security and maintaining a welcoming environment.”
“MCC is delighted to co-host this forum”, said Attorney Terry Downes, Executive Director of MCC’s Program on Homeland Security. “We thank the Boston and Merrimack Valley Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy and administrators, private schools, and police officials from around the region, who have gathered to examine this thorny issue confronting religious congregations. How does a faith community provide for the safety of its congregants and activities while preserving the open and welcoming atmosphere that is the hallmark of their operating philosophies? Providing a safe, convenient and comfortable venue for the discussion of important and sometimes delicate issues is central to the mission of the Homeland Security Program.”
The conference provided attendees with information on preparing themselves for an active threat or emergency event. These tips included:
- Build relationships with law enforcement; invite them to your building so they can have knowledge of the floor plan in the event of an emergency.
- Identify a safe space off site in case of an emergency. Contact a neighboring business or organization that has a space that can serve as an emergency shelter.
- Have an emergency trauma kit on site that includes tourniquets and other first aid equipment.
- Establish a communication plan to notify both internal and external stakeholders in case of an emergency.
The speakers also discussed the warning signs of violent behavior, active shooter and improvised explosive device (IED) threats and other emergency operations planning.
Featured speakers included Major Scott Range of the Massachusetts State Police Fusion Center, Lieutenant Glen Mills and Sergeant Timothy McDonough of the Burlington Police Department and Lowell Fire Department Chief Jeffrey Winward.
Robert Trestan, Esq., Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston Office, Alyson Morse Katzman, Associate Director of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence, Joseph F. McEnness, Executive Director of the Office of Risk Management, Archdiocese of Boston, Edward J. Notis-McConarty, Esq., Chancellor, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and Malik Khan, Former President of the Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland participated in a panel discussion on ways to address possible security threats and violence that can affect religious institutions.
This training was part of District Attorney Ryan’s Workplace Safety Program. This unique public/private partnership is designed to train employers, managers, and employees about intervention, prevention, and response to safety concerns.
(NOTE: The above press release is from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.)
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