Long Island police have increased their presence at places of worship following a series of threats against synagogues nationwide and will continue stepped-up patrols for the upcoming Passover and Easter holidays, officials said Wednesday.
Both police departments’ commissioners, speaking at the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center in Plainview Wednesday — the target of an unfounded bomb threat earlier this month — urged the public to be on alert and report suspicious behavior to law enforcement.
“Certainly with the holidays approaching and as a result of the threats made throughout the country, we have heightened our alert and we’re going to remain in that posture,” said Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini. “That includes enhanced community engagement and enhanced patrols.”
Since January, there have been more than 160 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions in the U.S. — including in New York — and three Canadian provinces, according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism.
Authorities last week arrested a suspect in Israel in connection with a majority of the threats, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking at a security symposium in conjunction with Uniondale-based Squad Security at the Plainview community center, police officials stressed that protecting religious institutions from terrorist attacks is a 24/7 job.
Rick Lewis, chief executive officer of the Mid-Island Y JCC, said security has long been at the forefront of the organization, and he was interested in talking to Nassau police officials about a new phone application that allows police to access live video surveillance in the case of an attack.
“We’ve had systems in place for years now, it’s not something that happened because the bomb threats happened,” said Lewis. “We work on it every day.”
Both departments have a plethora of tools, including long guns in patrols cars and technology-sharing apparatus, to assist in the effort, officials said.
“We’re in a constant state of alert,” said acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
Both Krumpter and Sini told the crowd of about 50 people that their departments offer security assessments and advice to religious institutions.
Rabbi Neil Tow of the Woodbury Jewish Center said while his synagogue has private security, he came to seek advice on measures that should be taken on holidays when attendance is record-high.
“I felt reassured that there are procedures for engaging with us as an organization,” said Tow.