The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey conducted training sessions in Monmouth and Middlesex counties for Jewish and interfaith community leaders to learn next-level approaches to active shooter/attacker scenarios.
Subject matter expert, Jin Kim, who retired in 2018 after 23 years with the FBI, presented ways to build beyond the Run–Hide–Fight approach to further empower individuals and institutions – ways that have saved lives in recent violent attacks.
The federation conducted two sessions on Nov. 29: a morning session at Highland Park Conservative Temple – Congregation Anshe Emeth and an evening session at iPlay America in Freehold. More than 150 people attended in total.
Noting each institution has a unique set of vulnerabilities and resources, Kim stressed during the presentation on Nov. 29, that “every individual has it in them to be their own first responder. A little knowledge and awareness can make all the difference in survival.”
Among his top points for individuals, according to information provided by the Jewish Federation, are:
- Make a personal commitment to do everything in your power, including learning how to survive – understanding how highly stressful conditions affect your mind and body, and creating a personal action loop comprised of strategies you can do rather than hope you can rise to accomplish.
- Using the aforementioned tools, visualize how you will act in the event of an attack; rehearse in your mind so you won’t be completely unprepared if an attack occurs.
- Securing doors without locks
- Obscuring yourself from view
- Avoiding direct line of sight with attacker
- Concealing in unexpected places
- Just as important is to discuss possible emergencies and responses with your loved ones. These conversations may be difficult or uncomfortable, but in today’s reality they are increasingly necessary.
- Remember the first resource to manage is the incident time – by disrupting the attacker’s timeline and primary plan. The longer you deny the attacker opportunity, the more likely it is that the intruder will run out of time and be neutralized either by suicide, apprehension, or deadly force.
- The next step is to then manage your response. This is about being resilient and adjusting to the situation and circumstances, not just being reactive with defaults.
- The key question is What’s Important Now? (WIN) Given what you know or don’t know about the situation…what is the best course of action based on the environment, conditions, population, threat proximity and severity?
The critical point is to think through what your strategic adaptations could be before an emergency happens. What are your paths or options in your office, or in another facility? How can you visualize and train for such an emergency in your head or in advance?
Among his top points for institutions, according to the statement, are:
- Establish, communicate, train on and invest in operational procedures
- Don’t set it and forget it with security systems and technology; invest in the integrity of those systems with proper levels of human resources when considering implementation of new technology or services; be guided also by how it can fail and the consequence impact rather than just focusing on the benefits.
- Invest in the resiliency of your people with awareness, knowledge and training. Training is critical and should include parameters that result in some failures rather than a repetitive sequence designed for an unrealistic 100 percent success. We don’t learn from success. We learn from failure.
- Make it a priority. Find a way to put it in the budget. Stop thinking of the challenge as beyond your capabilities to address. Every step can make a difference. Do it now.
“The federation began responding to increases in anti-Semitism and acts of violence several years ago, with the establishment of our Security Task Force, which to date has performed or facilitated community-wide vulnerability assessments, conducted dozens of trainings, and helped some 50 institutions secure more than $3 million in government and Federation security grants,” Amy Keller, the federation’s lead for security initiatives, said in the statement. “In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, we are redoubling efforts to do more – including launching a dedicated campaign to fund efforts countering anti-Semitism and strengthening community security – because it does take money; we need everyone in the community to give what they can.”
Among those attending Kim’s morning session, Magda Reyes, director of Education at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, said, “Jin Kim was very insightful and presented new material we haven’t considered. We are actively thinking about security and preparing our facility, but he went beyond what we had ever thought of.”
“We are feeling the threat of anti-Semitism,” said Susan Lemerman of Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen. “This program gave us guidance and the support the federation provides is invaluable.”
Rabbi Rav Cantor David Amar, Congregation Ahavat Olam in Howell, said, “As a person who grew up with weapons and guns and being under fire in another country, it’s interesting that Jin Kim raises the notion that the methods used today aren’t working; and the idea of training our kids, communities and synagogues to think differently about defending themselves makes sense.”
New Jersey State Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, who is from East Brunswick, reflected that institutions are looking to create balance between security and accessibility, noting, “the more people are trained, the better prepared they will be if they need to react. Additionally, the State Legislature is working to increase the resources available for our religious institutions and take steps to address rising anti-Semitic bias incidents.”
To learn more about the Jewish Federation’s initiatives to stem anti-Semitism and step-up security, visit jewishheartnj.org/crisis or jewishheartnj.org/stophate.