SCN recently convened the SCN Law Enforcement Advisory Council to review specific challenges our community confronts during this ten day period. Many synagogues are in a variety of settings- urban, suburban and exurban. Although each venue will dictate a different set of tactics for meeting the strategic intent, the following categories have been deemed as priorities by the SCN Law Enforcement Advisory Committee subject matter experts:
¨ Counter Surveillance: On going and necessary (start immediately)
¨ Law Enforcement Relations and Involvement: Shared Plans, Blueprints, Exercises
¨ Access Control: Vehicles, Vendors, Visitors and Congregants
¨ Authentication Procedures: Visitors and guests
¨ Prepare for Worst Case Scenarios; practice plans periodically and repetitively
¨ Physical and Operational Deterrence (parked cars, etc…)
SCN has also reviewed the information that has already been distributed by each movement’s central operations. Additional comprehensive recommendations and courses of action have been abstracted from the ADL’s security manuals and guidelines which are also good sources of information. Some of the aforementioned topics are covered in detail within the materials you have already received.
Two items which warrant further examination and detail at the earliest possibility are:
1) Counter Surveillance (Suspicious Behavior/Activities; on going and necessary)
Below is a detailed overview of counter surveillance Guidelines and suspicious person indicators. All security personnel, administrative staff, teachers and volunteers should be provided a copy of this at the earliest opportunity to familiarize themselves with the basic elements. These guidelines should also be incorporated in the pre planning phases of the High Holy Day preparations when reviewing parking lot procedures, ushering and other crowd control items.
Counter Surveillance Guidelines
Note: This information provides an overview of counter surveillance and should not be considered all-inclusive.
What is Counter Surveillance?
Counters surveillance is the process of detecting and mitigating hostile surveillance; it is an important aspect of counterterrorism and security operations. Good counter surveillance provides a means to prevent an attack from happening. Counter surveillance can be an individual or group effort, involving a dedicated counter surveillance cadre. Representative individuals from a synagogue or school can and should conduct their own counter surveillance by being aware of their surroundings and watching for individuals or vehicles that are out of place. Once an actual attack has begun, it cannot be undone. The genie cannot be put back into the bottle.
How do Hostiles Perform Surveillance?
Hostile surveillance can be preformed in three different forms
1. Fixed surveillance - is conducted by one or more parties that position themselves in inconspicuous locations for extended periods of time to gather information on a potential target. During this phase of surveillance terrorist operatives may disguise themselves as either security personnel, vagrants, street performers, students, photographers, utility workers, taxi drivers or any party that may easily blend into the surrounding landscape.
Fixed surveillance allows operatives to document the locations of security cameras, shift changes for security and general staff, peak times of pedestrian traffic, choke points for pedestrian and vehicular traffic and other sensitive information pertaining to a potential target.
2. Foot surveillance - is conducted by operatives that are on foot and mobile with the ability to collect information as they move from one location to another.
These individuals may either pose as lost tourists or attempt to blend into nearby crowds of bystanders. Operatives may either utilize cell phone cameras, still and video photography or hand held tape recorders to gather information on a potential target site.
3. Vehicular surveillance - is conducted by operatives that utilize various modes of transportation such as mass transit (trains, buses, ferries, aircraft etc.) automobiles and other common vehicles. These individuals may pose as ordinary mass transit patrons and utilize cell phone cameras, still and video photography, note pads, sketch books and hand-held tape recorders to gather information on a potential target site. Operatives may often work in teams of two or more when conducting vehicular surveillance.
Ideal locations for surveillance include areas with easy public access, multiple points of egress and views of the target site. These locations can include courtyards, bus stops, parking lots, public and semi-private roads, accessible roof tops of adjacent buildings, nearby bridges and overpasses. Adjacent wooded areas and abandon structures can also provide cover and allow views of a potential target site; these locations should be documented and routinely patrolled. An active security presence will deprive terrorist operatives of a safe haven for the collection of crucial information on a selected target.
What Are Some Surveillance Indicators?
CAUTION: Always exercise extreme caution as individuals conducting surveillance may not only be involved in gathering information for terrorist acts but may also be involved in criminal activity. Always have available all of the telephones numbers needed to report your findings (local law enforcement, terrorism tip lines).
Some information gatherers are highly trained individuals. One should never presume that it would be easy to identify those who may be conducting surveillance. Two common sense factors, which may help guide the counter-surveillance efforts are:
If you suspect malicious surveillance, you should carefully and covertly monitor it and report this information immediately to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
Try to remember as much as possible about the individual conducting the surveillance, his or her clothing, personal identifying characteristics, their points of interest, vehicle information, and possible accomplices. It is recommended that once you have completed your observation, you retreat to a location several blocks away from the targeted location to meet with authorities. Avoid causing undue attention; never arouse interest in yourself from a possible adversary.3
What are some other indicators of Suspicious Behavior?
2) Law Enforcement Relations and Involvement: Shared Plans, Blueprints, Exercises
In addition to the steps recommended for notifying local law enforcement about your prayer and activity schedules for the High Holy Day period, it is essential that you share the layouts, plans, blueprints, emergency/crisis management plans and emergency contact lists with your local law enforcement agency. This is a very important item to undertake for the purpose of enabling law enforcement to make recommendations and, if necessary, be able to have a thorough reference base for your institution’s layout in order to act swiftly in the event they need to do so. Having the plans accessible also enable emergency responders to execute their tasks with more clarity and understanding of your facilities. These are potential life saving measures. It is also very important to invite local law enforcement and first responders to your institution to practice their maneuvers. Although this may not be feasible for the High Holy Days, this should be a priority in your security plans and exercises.
Many of these items are also covered in depth on the SCN web site at www.scnus.org. Security and safety does not start or stop with the High Holy Days. Unfortunately, many acts of desecration and violence towards synagogues over the years have been randomly perpetrated without warning. In addition to the information provided in the public sector of the web site, SCN maintains a “Security Corner” for privileged access to information and documents that may only be shared with members of the community who are vested with security responsibilities for their respective institutions. Accordingly, we are asking EVERY SYNAGOGUE to submit to SCN an individual who is responsible for security in order to receive a designated pass code for accessing the information in the “security corner” section of the web site. The representative should be either your security director or a full time administrator/lay leader who is also a liaison with the lay leadership of the synagogue and other members of the administration. Once the individual is identified, please submit the contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us with the information at 212.284.6940.