After a recent upsurge in anti-Semitic violence, including the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June and a failed bomb plot targeting New York synagogues in May, Los Angeles city officials and community leaders are on alert for the approach of the High Holy Days season. More than 80 people representing Los Angeles synagogues and Jewish institutions attended an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) security briefing on Aug. 19, presented in cooperation with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
LAPD used the opportunity to familiarize the Jewish community with two new programs that encourage local citizens to report suspicious activities in their communities.
ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind stressed the urgency of the programs with some alarming statistics. For example, she said, one in 10 of the total number of hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County in 2007 was against Jews, and during that same year, hate crimes increased by 28 percent, with Jews being the most frequently targeted religious group; 74 percent of hate crimes motivated by religion were against Jews and Jewish institutions.
In 2008, the LAPD launched the Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) process and will implement an expanded iWatch program this fall. Both initiatives depend on citizens reporting to law enforcement agencies, which then analyze the reports and conduct follow-up investigations. Since SAR’s inception, more than 1500 suspicious activity reports have been submitted, though few have required further investigation.
Also at the meeting, Lt. Bob Fox, LAPD officer-in-charge of the Anti-Terrorism section, warned attendees to pay attention to people taking pictures of a tourist attraction or an important building; he encouraged reporting anyone taking photos of emergency exits, loading docks, security officers or freight elevators.
For more information, visit adl.org/security.