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CT legislature allocates $5 million for security at houses of worship

HARTFORD – The Connecticut state legislature has approved $5 million in state bonding to allow nonprofit organizations – including synagogues, mosques and churches – to seek a competitive state grant to help them protect against terrorist attacks and hate crimes, or to pay for security improvements made recently to their facilities.  

The effort to pass the bill was led by the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT).

“The number one priority for the Jewish community over the last few years has been to combat the rise in antisemitism which has been well-documented by the Anti-Defamation League and the FBI. The $5 million inside this legislation will allow Houses of Worship across Connecticut to help secure their buildings against a future attack,” said JFACT Executive Director Michael Bloom.

The bill directs the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to develop, by May 1, certain nonprofit building security infrastructure criteria, including: 

The reinforcement of entryways with ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, remote locks on all entrance and exits, and door buzzer systems; 

The use of cameras throughout a building and at all entrances and exits; 

Penetration-resistant vestibules; 

Other security infrastructure improvements and devices as they become industry standards.

After developing a checklist for eligible nonprofits to use to assess their own safety and security, DESPP will then oversee the $5 million competitive grant program and provide grants to nonprofits for any eligible expenses they may have incurred after July 1, 2019. This includes the installation of surveillance cameras, penetration-resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms, training personnel to operate the security system, or the purchase of portable entrance security devices like metal detector wands and screening machines.

In order for this $5 million to get to the community, the money needs to be released by the Bond Commission, which is controlled by the Governor. JFACT has called upon the Governor to place the $5 million for Houses of Worship on the next agenda for the Bond Commission.

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