By Philip Deitch – FBISTLCAAA life member
Congregations of all faith have been facing growing security concerns. There is no longer a single faith or type of spiritual community that can consider itself immune whether in urban or rural areas.
The FBI St. Louis office offered a free seminar on “Protecting Houses of Worship’” on January 26, 2019. More than 50 people from congregations as far as Cape Girardeau came out on a snowy, bitter, cold Saturday morning to learn how they can better protect their congregations and their congregants. In the process, they created a supportive community among representatives from diverse faiths to include the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. The host location was the New Northside Conference Center, 5939 Goodfellow Boulevard, in the City of St Louis. The FBISTLCAAA provided continental breakfast and refreshments. About ten FBISTLCAAA members came to volunteer and/or to learn themselves.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn welcomed and thanked the attendees and put the importance of the day into stark perspective. FBI special agents gave an overview on hate crimes, active shooter behavioral analysis, and what to do in an active shooter situation. Also, on the program, a Jewish Federation security expert who provides evaluations and trainings to all Jewish congregations and Jewish communal organizations. He self-identified as a Christian underlying the point that all spiritual congregations should be taking preventive action. Our own FBISTLCAAA President Gary Chan provided tips on cyber security. Rounding out the 3-hour seminar, a sergeant with SLMPD’s Crisis Intervention Team talked about the mental health resources available and how it provides such training to police officers.