Church leaders, police discuss ways to protect places of worship from acts of hate

Hampshire County

From vandalism to acts of physical violence, churches, synagogues, and mosques across the country have been the targets for acts of hate.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and Northampton Police hosted a conference Tuesday at the Northampton Senior Center, on ways to protect houses of worship from violence or other criminal activity.

“There’s been several high profile violent incidents across the country that has people concerned,” Detective Lt. Craig Kirouac of the Northampton Police Department said.

Across the nation, places of worship have been targets for acts of hate and local police want to make sure everyone feels safe and protected.  

Riqi Kosovske is the Rabbi at the Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton. She told 22News that her congregation was broken into within the last year. Although she doesn’t believe it was motivated by anti-semitism, it’s raised concerns about basic safety. 

“I would love some practical advice on things that we haven’t thought about which we are getting a lot of today,” Kosoveke said. “There will be some pieces that we might already be taking care of and some things to think about.”

The training was focused on being prepared and having a safety plan. Whether it’s locking your congregation’s doors, keeping lights on, or having surveillance cameras on the property.  

“We’re not talking about extreme violence in many of these things, “Lt. Kirouac said. “We’re talking about protecting the building from vandalism. It’s really the entire scope of safety planning and how to make a plan ahead of time for when something does happen.”

Police also discussed what to do if there was an active shooter situation.

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