Faith-based organizations increasing security across D.C. region

Montgomery County is helping some faith-based organizations increase security. County Executive Marc Elrich announced Friday that a total of $200,000 in grant money will go to 12 organizations that have experienced or are at high risk of experiencing hate crimes.

"This faith-based security grant is another way Montgomery County affirms our support for our neighbors of every religion, race, and ethnicity and demonstrates our steadfast commitment to protect basic human rights," Elrich said in a release. "While there is no information about specific, recent threats in Montgomery County, the senseless and vile act that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand reminds us that hate and evil can callously destroy peace without warning. These grants will provide faith-based organizations with additional resources to enhance their security."

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, which was awarded $100,000, will be the single largest recipient of the grant money. The Federation represents both synagogues and Jewish nonprofits throughout the region.

CEO Gil Preuss said they're still finalizing which organizations will get a share of the grant.

"Given the increase in attacks - whether it is locally, in Pittsburgh, or in New Zealand - we recognize that this is something that we have to do," Preuss said. "We can't be naïve. We have to address these challenges and make sure that members of all faith communities are safe regardless of where they pray or where they gather."

Other local jurisdictions are also taking steps to increase security at places of worship. Fairfax County Police, for instance, are hosting a Worship Watch Workshop this weekend, and in Loudon County, Imam Mohamed Magid of the ADAMS Center said earlier this month that he's been in touch with local authorities as well.

"All people of faith, we have to stand together against hate and bigotry," he said.

In the coming year, Montgomery County plans to offer security classes and training specifically designed for faith-based facilities as well.