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Security continues to be a top priority

Jewish communal leaders are continuing to take measures to upgrade security procedures in the community following the April 13 shootings that killed two people in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Campus and one woman in the parking lot of Village Shalom.

Earlier this week Todd Stettner, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, said two active shooting training workshops, both led by the Department of Homeland Security, are on tap for the next few weeks.

The first is for personnel in the Jewish community — including staffers from agencies and synagogues — on Thursday, May 22. A similar workshop will take place on Friday, May 30. Various executives from the non-Jewish community have been invited to this workshop in addition to people in the Jewish community.

“We are expecting approximately 150 people from all over the metro area to be here. We’re hosting it for DHS,” Stettner said.

DHS already conducted an audit of security measures at the Campus late last month. Stettner said DHS will report its findings to communal leaders on June 2.

Stettner said DHS has also offered to conduct security audits at areas synagogues and a number of congregations have scheduled walk-throughs with the agency.

“DHS is ready and willing to help and we’ve urged all congregations to do this to see what they may need to do to make their building a safer place,” he continued. 

In the very near future Stettner said Jewish agencies will begin using a software program designed and donated by Safety Alert Apps.

“It’s a phone application, which will be used for staff first responders, who are the key people who are on duty at any one time in the building who would normally respond to emergencies. This system will help spread the word quickly on issues such as a tornado, fire, something suspicious that might be occurring on the premises or even a shooter. It’s a special phone app that has won a national award,” Stettner noted.

Medora Heilbron, brand manager for Safety Alert Apps, said the company was invited to meet with the Department of Homeland Security post Sandy Hook.

“After that meeting the company developed the SafeWatch TEAM® app to help keep institutional workplace populations as safe as possible in any emergency. The app turns your smartphone into a multi-tasking emergency tool, connecting the user immediately and simultaneously to multiple layers of help in the first seconds of any emergency,” she explained.

Safety Alert Apps will send Heilbron and Jill Campbell to the Campus soon to conduct a training session.

The Jewish Federation, with assistance from the Jewish Community Foundation, is also trying to secure a grant that will pay for a community security director. Stettner said once the funding is in place, he hopes the position is filled quickly.

Meanwhile people around the Campus will continue to see a police presence in and around the building.

“For the foreseeable future we will continue to employ off-duty police for the Campus,” Stettner reported. “Their presence will be primarily inside the building but they will also be patrolling the outside as well.”

The Overland Park Police Department will also continue to drive by the Campus on a regular basis. Members of the community may also see the Kansas Highway Patrol coming through the Campus lots as well.