Borough Park

Cuomo to beef up security in yeshivas

Gov. announces $25 million grant to combat hate crimes

February 28, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember David Greenfield led a rally last year to call for more security measures in non-public schools. Photo courtesy of Greenfield’s office
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In the wake of a spate of shocking anti-Semitic attacks across the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting $25 million in state funds toward combating hate crimes.

Cuomo announced that the funding, which is being provided in the form of a $25 million grant, will allow yeshivas and day care centers to beef up security measures at their educational institutions.

The grant program will provide funding for security training needs as well as cameras and state-of-the-art ​technology, improved lighting and other security upgrades. Cuomo made the announcement on Feb. 23 after meeting with more than 50 religious leaders, including representatives of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.

In addition, Cuomo has directed the state to expand a toll-free hotline to include text message capability to report incidents of bias and discrimination.

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The state is also putting up a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of suspect involved in a hate crime. 

“New York must always be the beacon of tolerance and hope for all, and with the recent explosion of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, it is more important than ever before that we do everything in our power to ensure the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers,”  Cuomo said in a statement. “Any acts of bias or discrimination will be met with the full force of the law. New York is and always has been a place that celebrates diversity and religious tolerance, and we say to all New Yorkers who feel unsafe — we will always protect you.”

Two incidents of anti-Semitism have made worldwide headlines in recent days.

Police in Philadelphia are investigating an act of vandalism in which more than 75 headstones were toppled over in a Jewish cemetery in that city over the weekend.

The vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery comes on the heels of an incident at a Jewish cemetery in a St. Louis suburb a few days earlier in which more than 100 gravestones were damaged.

Meanwhile, more than 90 Jewish centers across the country have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year, according to law enforcement officials.

On Monday, bomb threats were called into three Jewish community centers on Staten Island.

Councilmember David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst), whose council district is home to large numbers of Orthodox Jews who send their children to yeshivas, said he was pleased that the governor is taking action to fight hate crimes.

“I am thrilled that the governor has followed New York City’s lead on this important issue. Especially in this time of heightened anti-Semitism and increased attacks on religious institutions, the security of our children must be paramount. The governor has long been committed to religious schools and this is another investment in our children,” Greenfield stated.

Greenfield was the sponsor of a 2016 bill that provided free security guards for nearly every private school in New York City including yeshivas and Catholic schools.

The new law, which pays for licensed security guards in private schools in New York City that have over 300 students, went into effect this academic year. The cost of the program is $20 million a year, according to Greenfield’s office. To date, more than 100 schools have been assigned security guards under the new law.

Greenfield also praised Cuomo for “his leadership and his commitment to combating hate crimes in New York City, as well as for recognizing the vital importance of ensuring that all schools remain safe spaces for our children, whatever their faith may be.”

 


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