Council Approves Funds for Security Improvements at Jewish Community Centers (VIDEO)
UPDATED The Montgomery County Council has unanimously approved a $225,000 supplemental appropriation to fund security improvements at Bender JCC of Greater Washington, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
The elected leaders also approved an amendment to the resolution so additional organizations or faith groups can also receive county funding for security enhancements.
The Council’s action follows a recent increase of hate crimes at local schools and communities.
Local leaders said they committed to keeping residents safe.
“We can not let any portion of our community feel insecure as they practice their faith,” said Roger Berliner, president of the Montgomery County Council.
According to background information in the Council’s packet, the money will help pay for security cameras, monitored door access controls, insulated windows and more.
Watch the Council vote in this MyMCMedia Extra video, below:
During the discussion at the dais, Council member Nancy Navarro shared that her staff recently found some flyers from a white supremacist organization at the Council Office Building.
“The truth of the matter is that we also have to respond swiftly,” said Navarro. “So whenever flyers such as the ones that appear in this building you know are identified then we also owe it to the public which comes into this building, and to our staff, which is very diverse, etcetera, to respond very quickly and very swiftly. So again I am very proud to support this particular proposal.”
When asked for more information about the flyers, Council spokesperson Neil Greenberger said a couple of flyers were found at the Council Office Building garage and on Fleet Street. When asked if this has happened before, Greenberger said not that he was aware of. As for what happened to the flyer, he said staff members took them down and threw them away.
Council Vice President Hans Riemer said the Council is addressing a public safety need by providing funds for the increased security.
“People are being targeted because of their religious views and we are addressing a public safety need that is arising in this context,” said Riemer.
Council member George Leventhal noted that some community members may ask why county tax dollars are being used to subsidize security at private schools and religious based organizations. He said that crimes at those properties fall under the jurisdiction of the police department, and public safety is a county function. According to Leventhal, by preventing crimes with public monies the county is advancing its law enforcement mission.
“We deeply regret having to spend these resources,” said Berliner. “We are at a place we have never been before – in our country and in our county. The hate that has been unleashed has been really quite extraordinary and quite troubling, profoundly disturbing.”
Berliner said he personally believes President Donald Trump has a responsibility for it.
“We are fighting back on every level we know how to hold our community together and to make sure that people know they are safe and respected in our community,” Berliner said.