Ten years ago, SAFE Washington was founded to provide our Jewish community with real-time threat and incident reports, emergency preparedness, first aid training, and increased opportunities for obtaining federal security hardening grants. Now a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, SAFE serves over 100 Jewish organizations in Washington.
The key to SAFE’s success has been its focus on developing strong, collaborative working relationships linking law enforcement and Washington’s Jewish agencies. The productive relationships between Jewish agencies and law enforcement are founded on what Seattle Police Lt. Doug Larm calls the “three C’s: communicate, collaborate, and cultivate.”
Through the three C’s, “I better understand you and you better understand me,” Larm says. The three C’s enable law enforcement to develop plans for enhanced security that best fit each organization’s needs. They help Jewish agencies build habits of situational awareness, learn about reporting suspicious behavior, and create and practice protocols for responding to emergencies. Today, thanks to close work with Jewish organizations, “I have a better, deeper understanding of the Jewish community and what to look for, for developing products and services to meet safety and recommend goals,” Larm explains.
At the time of the 2006 shooting at the Federation, Seattle police had an imperfect understanding of hate crimes, Larm says. Since SAFE’s founding in 2008, police have learned a great deal about Jewish organizational security needs from SAFE founders — Larry Broder, Temple De Hirsch Sinai’s former executive director; Jeff Slotnick, president of the security and risk management firm Setracon Inc.; Kim Greenhall and Amy Wasser Simpson, the Federation’s former community services director and vice president for planning and community services, respectively; Hilary Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League’s former community director; and Andrew Chadick, the Federation’s Director of IT, Building Operations, and Community Security. Chadick orchestrates day-to-day SAFE communications, preparedness, and training activities.
Over the last 10 years, SAFE has deepened its expertise, refined its focus, and made its impact more effective through the Federation and community support of the Federation. The communications network was put to the test on Saturday, October 27, 2018, when, during Shabbat services in Pittsburgh, 11 Jews were murdered and six others were injured at Tree of Life Congregation. By 7:58 a.m. PST, SAFE Washington had already jumped into action gathering information and making calls. The first call was to our law enforcement partners in Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, and Tacoma to provide them with the names and addresses of all community organizations. Within two hours, visible patrols and cars were placed at synagogues throughout the area.
SAFE Washington, a Mark Bloome Initiative, has built a model that Jewish communities across the country look to replicate. In the wake of the anti-Semitic terror attack in Pittsburgh, the value of SAFE cannot be underestimated. SAFE paves a path forward for Jewish organizations in this challenging time — helping them provide needed security while remaining warm, welcoming, and inclusive places where each of us can find peace and refuge.
Washington state Jewish organizations have full access to SAFE security resources, including venue and event security preparation, school and camp protection, family protection, natural disaster preparedness, social media security, and active shooter materials.
SAFE trainings were provided to Jewish organizations in 2018 covering High Holidays preparedness, first aid, cybersecurity, surveillance detection, bombing prevention awareness, vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detection, protective security measures, community security, and stop-the-bleed.
Local Jewish organizations received Homeland Security Non-Profit Security Grants, the most ever in one year.