The CBH Security Committee develops and recommends security policies, procedures, and equipment and collaborates with the Executive Director to evaluate and maintain those efforts on an annual basis.
Message from the Security Committee June 2023
Security Update Part II – Spring 2023 Newsletter
The Security Committee is writing to provide an update on our plans for physical campus upgrades. This is the second communication in a two-part series intended to help our Partners know what CBH is doing to improve and maintain our safety and security on campus.
In February, we brought you Part I to give you feedback on the survey we took last year and to provide context for the security decisions being made in this era of heightened concern. This letter is intended to provide more detail on what we’ve done so far and what’s in the works, along with a general timeline for the interventions listed.
The work listed below represents a series of interventions recommended in a Vulnerability Assessment performed by the Central California Intelligence Center in the fall of 2021. The assessment has guided the work of the committee to address the recommendations for our community per “best practices” for campuses like ours.
In 2019, the Security Committee was awarded our first federal security grant in the form of the 2019 NSGP (Nonprofit Security Grant Program) award that was spent approximately as follows:
● Blast Film on existing windows (completed 2020, $6,000)
● Exterior Lighting – Eaves (completed 2021/2022, $40,000)
● Exterior Lighting – Seven light poles for north and south driveway (2022, $30,000)
During this time, we also completed several other safety and security improvements using CBH’s operational budget and gala funds allocated for security/technology:
● Door locking improvements, alterations
● AED (defibrillators) in Social Hall, Sanctuary, and Office
● Panic buttons (portable and static)
● Stop-the-bleed kits in assembly spaces and office
● Lighting of main monumental sign to enhance “open for business” appearance at night
In 2022, the Security Committee again applied for a new federal grant (2022GY NSGP); thanks to another round of hard work, our application was successful and we were awarded $150,000. The award has been granted, but we still await permission from the California Office of Emergency Services to be able to disburse the funds (we expect this approval to come from FEMA through CalOES within the next few months). Funds in this grant cycle must be spent as
● Fence and vehicle/pedestrian gates to close off the campus along its frontage ($111k)
● Landscape boulders and bollards to protect against vehicle intrusion ($19k)
● Contracted security personnel ($10k)
● Trainings (Stop the Bleed, etc) ($3k)
● Management and Administration ($7k)
Again, we believe the above list will be possible to enact beginning within a few months, but we are at the mercy of the approval process.
In 2022, we also applied to the so-called CSNSGP, which is a different state security grant program intended to provide funds for “target hardening” in a similar vein as the federal grant program listed above. Unfortunately, that application was not awarded. (Through debriefing with the California Office of Emergency Services as well as with other California synagogues, we learned that the state pot of money for that grant program ran dry after awarding funds to groups that had never before received a security grant, putting us out of the running due to our status as a previous awardee.)
Finally, in 2022 we instituted a $54 security fee per Partnership unit, which we used to purchase the mobile panic buttons and emergency bleeding control kits mentioned above and to pay for their subscription service (an annual expense).
The Security Committee has committed to applying yet again for the state grant this year (2023GY CSNSGP) and to the federal grant for next year (2024GY NSGP). Our strategy for future grants will be to address the following:
● More and larger requests for funding to pay contract security fees
● Improvements to our existing camera/surveillance systems
● Replacement of the wood fences at the rear and sides of campus with taller, non-climbable fences
● Improved fence and code-operated gates at Gan Haverim
What can you do?
In addition to physical upgrades to the campus, training of members is an important part of our campus security preparedness. We encourage all members to participate in situational awareness, active threat training, and emergency bleeding control. You can undergo training online at Secure Communities Network; programming is offered many times throughout the year. For those who prefer in-person training, “stop-the-bleed” training was offered twice at CBH in 2022. It will be offered again several times a year, and you’ll be notified through the E-Tone and occasional direct email from CBH. If you have not yet participated in any of the training, we encourage you to do so – these skills are useful in life in general and allow us to be helpful at accident scenes both on campus and in the larger world.
Currently, the doors of the sanctuary are being locked during services on Saturday mornings but not most Friday nights (we are told it’s too complicated with shifting schedules and service types on Fridays). We would like to implement a robust usher/greeter program in order to support the continued locking of doors while permitting entry of members into the building. We are looking for volunteers to establish this program and who are interested in serving as ushers/greeters. Please reach out if you would be willing to take on this role.
As you are likely aware, in 2022 CBH leadership made the decision to retain a security guard approximately full-time. Since the expense had not been anticipated in the development of the 2022/23 annual budget, we were compelled to use reserve funds and unrestricted net assets to cover it to the tune of approximately $8,000 per month. That means that in the 2022/23 fiscal year, we spent about $100k that we could not cover with that year’s revenue.
There is no way to sugar-coat this reality: we are struggling to balance the budget for the 2023/24 fiscal year with this added expense. Because we understand that the majority of our Partners, staff, clergy and lay leaders believe this is an important measure (at least until our fences and gates are complete and perhaps beyond), we recommended to the Board of Directors that the annual security fee to partners be increased to cover the real costs associated with hired security. If we are to spread the cost equally to all partner units, the total would be $360 per partner unit per year. This is approved by the Board and you will see this new request in your pledge document for the new fiscal year.
While the committee recognizes our campus needs a lot of improvement and many express wishes that these projects be completed as fast as possible, we are limited in our pace if we want to take advantage of these very sizable security grants from the state and federal government. We have no alternative to this path unless our Partners pledge at a significantly higher average rate than we currently do.
Finally, come join us. If you want to influence how we plan security measures, we welcome your interest in joining the Security Committee.
The CBH Security Committee 2022-23
Carol Darwish, chair
Message from the Security Committee February 2023
Dear CBH Partners,
In the spring of 2022, the CBH Security Committee distributed a community survey to illuminate the security perspectives of our Partnership. We received a very substantial response to the survey – 191 responses, to be exact.
We write today to follow up on the results of that survey and to acknowledge that the security climate has continued to intensify for Jewish institutions worldwide; events close to home have shown that Davis is not immune to an escalation of global antisemitism. The Security Committee has already had to make decisions both in preparing grant applications to receive government funds to increase the safety of our campus and to respond to current security concerns raised by staff and Partners.
This letter has two parts which will be followed by another more detailed communication in the future.
Part I summarizes the most important parts of what we learned from the 2022 survey and shares how the Security Committee is considering these results in decision-making.
Part II discusses supplemental information the Committee is using to make security plans.
Finally, a future communication will be forthcoming on more concrete next steps – the results of our recent work in securing grant funding for securing our campus into the future.
PART I — Describing and Interpreting the Results of the 2022 Survey
Our survey contained a list of questions intended to get information on the congregational level of alarm and to learn specifically which security concerns made people uncomfortable on campus.
In response to our initial general question, roughly 25% of respondents stated they had no special concern for their personal safety while on the CBH campus, more than 50% have some minor safety concerns, and at least 20% of respondents have serious concerns. Although most CBH Partners are not worried enough to avoid participation in events or services, a significant number of Partners are at least somewhat concerned. The Committee believes that reasonable recommendations that align with security “best practices” are warranted in helping all Partners to feel safer. We are already working towards these goals as you will learn in this letter and future ones.
The survey revealed a similar response to concerns about property crimes and vandalism. Fewer people were concerned that a vehicle might be used as a weapon against people on our campus, but since weaponized vehicles were mentioned in our Vulnerability Assessment, and since we can reduce the risk of weaponized vehicles injuring anyone on campus at virtually no cost (through government grants) using landscape boulders and strategically placed bollards, the Committee has decided to pursue this recommendation to install bollards and boulders.
With regard to targeted gun violence, the survey numbers reveal our deepest communal fear. Here, only about 20% are not concerned, about half are occasionally worried about armed assailants, and a quarter of respondents have elevated concerns. We know we must act, and have spent time considering how to approach the range of alternative security interventions. The actions we are planning will be across several categories of intervention including fencing, community trainings, and more robust securing of our buildings.
The installation of perimeter fencing and motorized vehicle gates has long been considered, but we understood not all Partners had the same attitude in striking a balance between security and maintaining a home-like and welcoming environment. The majority did not object to low fencing (about half of you somewhat or strongly support this compared to 15 who oppose it.) However, we know the federal and state security grants available to us will not pay for “low” or climbable fencing, and our commissioned Vulnerability Assessments do not recommend any climbable fencing.
The high fencing proposition produced different survey results. A bit fewer than half of all respondents opposed high fencing and gates, while the other half were neutral-to-positive about the proposition. The survey data on this single issue is probably the most thought-provoking question for the Committee. We have spoken to experts with the California Intelligence Agency and had two full-scale risk assessments undertaken for our campus over the past several years; a high, gated fence was the standout recommendation for addressing our security needs, while a low or climbable fence was discouraged. How do we balance the recommendations of security experts (and the not insignificant number of respondents who support a high fence) against the half of respondents who oppose it? More detail on this is to come in a subsequent communication, but a preview of our analysis supports incorporating high fencing and gates into a well-considered landscape that is designed to look natural and welcoming as opposed to “fenced in.”
A variety of door-locking and greeter training alternatives during services were addressed in the survey, but the results are not easily summarized for the purposes of this letter. Volunteer greeters have been considered a positive idea by our community, yet concerns remain about training volunteers properly and coordinating and recruiting the volunteer force. We would welcome a volunteer to organize a robust program, so if you may be interested, please contact Pia or Carol Darwish, chair of the Security Committee.
Finally, with regard to the hiring of security guards, an overwhelming majority somewhat or strongly supported our current practice of hiring armed guards for the High Holy Days and other high-attendance events. Respondents were divided on whether we should hire guards for regular use during school hours and services. There was a minority in favor of specifically armed security for all of these alternatives. (With regard to armed versus unarmed security, armed guards are 300-400% as costly as unarmed, and as of this writing our research has revealed a shortage of such contractors – they are simply in demand and not readily available to us for regular employment.)
After the survey went out, several regional antisemitic events in a row caused the contract security question to be revisited with more urgency. Last fall, the Board voted to fund an unarmed security guard on a regular basis to relieve the concerns of many including staff, clergy, preschool parents, etc. If you’d like more information about that decision, please reach out to Pia, our Executive Director, or a Board member.
PART II — Additional Information and Concerns
As mentioned, time has passed since the distribution of our survey early last year. Since then, we’ve seen an increase in antisemitic crimes and incidents in the United States and around the world. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), other Jewish organizations, and government agencies have documented this rise, and the Secure Community Network (the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America) reports that Jews are the targets of more than 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes despite being 2% of the U.S. population.
Further, these incidents are occurring in our home community in Davis and the Sacramento area. Recently, swastikas have been drawn on the UC Davis campus and in our high schools. Our elementary schools and junior high schools are also afflicted with antisemitic “incidents” of various types, as many of you have shared with us this school year. When regional White Nationalists chose our freeway overpass to drape banners with antisemitic messages, it further heightened the feeling of localized risk experienced by many of our Partners – Davis is not the refuge from intolerance we would like it to be.
More frequently each year, unhoused Davis residents use our campus and facilities for sleeping, toileting, and charging devices, creating sanitation and health problems and on several occasions causing Partners and staff to feel physically unsafe. We do not intend to dehumanize or stigmatize those experiencing homelessness, but acknowledge the strain on our limited staff; we have no bandwidth to add the duty to find social services for individuals or to clear doorways and play areas for students. Our staff and clergy are vital members of our community who are on campus for long hours, sometimes alone during the evening and early morning. Preschool parents whose children are on campus for extended periods also express their support for greater security presence.
In conclusion, the Security Committee has been engaging experts and learning about our security needs and the alternatives available for resolving them for some time. We believe the 2022 survey has provided valuable information to us and we thank everyone who took the time to participate in it. We also appreciate the concerns expressed by staff and others over the several months since the survey was completed. We are always open and available to receive additional information and input from Partners, parents, and staff.
Please stay tuned for further communication laying out more detailed plans for campus changes, and we hope to soon create a community meeting to gain further thoughts about our campus from our Partners.
The CBH Security Committee
Carol Darwish, Chair
Pia Spector, Executive Director