Applauding Legislative Allocation of $5 Million for Houses of Worship

JFACT Applauds the Passage of House Bill 5518, Which Allocates $5 MILLION for Security at Houses of Worship and Another $10 Million for School Security

JFACT, which led this advocacy effort, welcomed the approval of $5 million in state bonding to allow nonprofit organizations like synagogues, mosques and churches to seek a competitive state grant to help them fortify themselves against terrorist attacks and hate crimes, or to pay for recent security improvements they have made.

The number one priority for the Jewish community over the last few years is combating the rise in anti-Semitism which has been well-documented by the Anti-Defamation League and the FBI. Incidents are on the rise in Connecticut, the country and the world. The $5 million inside this legislation will allow Houses of Worship across Connecticut to help secure their buildings against a future attack.

It's a bigger victory when you consider what other states have allocated to Houses of Worship.

$1million to Massachusetts, $10million to Pennsylvania and $15million for California. We were just able to secure $5million for a smaller state.

The bill directs the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to develop by May 1 certain nonprofit building security infrastructure criteria, including:

  1. the reinforcement of entryways with ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, remote locks on all entrance and exits, and door buzzer systems;
  2. the use of cameras throughout a building and at all entrances and exits, including the use of closed-circuit television monitoring;
  3. penetration-resistant vestibules; and
  4. other security infrastructure improvements and devices as they become industry standards.

DESPP must then develop a checklist for eligible nonprofits to use to assess their own safety and security, including their communications systems, building access control and surveillance, utility systems, mechanical systems, and emergency power.

DESPP will then oversee the $5 million competitive grant program and provide grants to nonprofits for any eligible expenses they may have incurred after July 1, 2019, including the installation of surveillance cameras, penetration-resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms, training personnel to operate the security system, or the purchase of portable entrance security devices like metal detector wands and screening machines.

In order for this $5 million to get to the community, the money needs to be released by the Bond Commission which is controlled by the Governor. We will immediately call upon the Governor and ask him to place the $5 million for Houses of Worship on the next agenda for the Bond Commission because these dollars are immediately needed by the Jewish community.

Michael Bloom, Executive Director, JFACT

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