Continuing to try to prepare institutions for a day he said he hopes will never come, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Monday led off a seminar to train religious leaders about how to respond to armed attacks on their congregations.
"In this day and age, we must be prepared to detect and fight both foreign and domestic terrorism," Mangano told the seminar attended by about 100 people at the Morelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. "I have launched an active shooter training seminar so religious leaders . . . are helped to prevent, deter and respond to 'active shooter' or other security incidents."
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, repeated the mantra, "If you see something, say something." He told the religious leaders that the key to preparedness is intelligence-gathering and cooperation.
"We no longer have the luxury of waiting to see if something is going to happen," King said. "We need to be prepared and to have as many layers of security as possible. We must never let our guard down."
The seminar follows mass shootings this summer in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded more than 50, and at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a gunman killed six people and wounded four.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale told attendees that they must have a plan to deal with armed assailants. "Do not think that we [in the suburbs] are free from this type of situation," he said.
The seminar was sponsored by InfraGard, an FBI program in which businesses, academic institutions and state and local law enforcement agencies share information to protect U.S. infrastructure.
"We've talked about this frequently at the synagogue," Rabbi Anchelle Perl of Congregation Beth Sholom Chabad of Mineola said during a break. "It's sad, though, that as we prepare for the High Holy Days to uplift the community, we have to be thinking about this, as well."
Pastor Samuel Adu of the Church of God In Christ Jesus of the Apostolic Faith Inc., in Lakeview, said he hadn't given security issues much thought until he was invited to attend the seminar about three weeks ago.
"Now it's an issue we will have to take up and assign responsibility for," he said.The Rev. Kevin Smith, pastor of the Church of Saint Dominic in Oyster Bay, said the church has a plan in place. Smith said the issue is a longtime concern of his since there are "two parish schools."