“How aware are you?”

Alan Poland, Community Security Director for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, asked that question in a recent Community Security Initiative (CSI) seminar for members of a local synagogue.

Part of Alan’s job is to use tools from the Secure Community Network (SCN) to create a “security culture” in Delray Beach, Highland Beach and Boca Raton. His aim is to empower Jewish residents during a time of rising antisemitism.

Working with SCN, Alan uses CSI resources to keep the Federation, its campus, staff, and agencies protected, while providing knowledge on what people can do to keep themselves, their families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and centers of Jewish life safer.

If you had to, could you…?

identify the physical characteristics of a person who fled the scene of a crime?
give law enforcement a description of a car that sped away from your synagogue?
point out which person was sitting in a spot at a restaurant you just dined in?
In SCN’s Introduction to Situational Awareness, Alan posed these questions and others to help attendees understand the importance of their recollection when catching a perpetrator.

“When you’re in a traumatic event, your brain doesn’t always recall under stress. It’s critical to be able to remember the characteristics of a person and vehicles,” he said. “Your mind has the ability to block out certain things in a stressful moment. The workshop helps people hone in on the details.”

Developing skills that come in handy everywhere

Among the different levels of awareness, “focused awareness” is what SCN trains people to work to enhance and what Alan believes most people should strive to improve. This includes scanning surroundings to point out something that is out of place. In this age of digital communications, the biggest obstacle to focused awareness can be a person’s smartphone.

“Participants viewed a video where a Jewish man was so deep into his smartphone that he failed to see his assailants gathering to attack him until it was too late,” Alan said, related to training materials used in the course. “If he had simply looked up at any time, he would have had an opportunity to run in the other direction. The sooner you react, the greater the percentage of survivability.”

Answering the need for increased diligence, the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County will continue its national level partnership of incident reporting, intelligence analysis, and security consultation and training. Alan plans to hold more community sessions that will, in time, foster a culture of security, awareness and proactive steps to ensure a better outcome for our Jewish communities. To learn more about Alan, SCN, and the Community Security Initiative, visit here.