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Police: More security at synagogues after Pittsburgh mass shooting

Nassau County police were at Young Israel of

Nassau County police were at Young Israel of Woodmere after a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. Credit: Todd Maisel

Law enforcement on Long Island and in New York City intensified patrols in and around synagogues and other houses of worship after Saturday morning's mass killing in Pittsburgh, and police say that increased presence will continue.

"We're not just driving by," Nassau County Det. Vincent Garcia said. "We're stopping in, we're walking in, we're asking how everybody is." 

Suffolk police said Saturday its heightened presence at synagogues "will continue beyond today." Criminal intelligence officers will visit each synagogue "to touch base with them regarding security."

"We will continue to work with all of our religious institutions to ensure a safe environment for people to worship," police said in a statement.

The department said it's been delivering its curriculum called “Safety in the Sanctuary,” available through Suffolk County’s Shield counterterrorism and anti-crime program.

It was initially developed in Newberry, South Carolina, after the 2015 attack on a Charleston church that killed nine. Suffolk police were able to get the curriculum in summer 2016 and adapt it for the county’s needs.

The program addresses the threats houses of worship might face, with active shooter situations in mind, but also includes strategies for dealing with weather events and medical emergencies.

On Long Island, Jewish community centers and schools faced a rash of bomb threats from January to March.

After Saturday's mass shooting, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed State Police to heighten patrols around Jewish centers and houses of worship statewide. There were no known threats in New York, officials said.

"We, as a nation, must stand together and stand against the corrosive and destructive forces of hate in all of its forms," Cuomo said in a statement.

In New York City, the NYPD deployed heavy weapons teams, including the officers from the Critical Response Command and the Strategic Response Team, to houses of worship.

Officers were making additional visits "to ensure the safety of all of our residents," police said in a statement. 

With Matthew Chayes

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