Gov. Wolf signs law to assist nonprofits with security
Legislation passed in response to attacks against the Jewish community, including the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, was signed into law this week by Gov. Tom Wolf.
The new law establishes a $5 million fund designed to assist nonprofit groups, institutions and individuals considered possible targets for hate crimes, based on FBI statistics. Money from the fund would help them implement safety and security measures.
Beginning in the 2020-21 fiscal year, the nonprofits will be able to apply for grants of between $5,000 and $150,000 to pay for measures such as metal detectors, safety and security training and upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security.
“Schools and other community institutions should be a safe place for every child and resident,” said Wolf. “I thank the bipartisan efforts that helped ensure safety and security funding was available for these non-profit, community institutions where people gather and should have peace of mind.”
On Oct. 27, 2018, a gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill and killed 11 people from three congregations. Six people were wounded, including four police officers.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition worked behind the scenes with legislators in an effort to get the assistance legislation passed.
“We’ve been working on this for over a year, since the shooting happened at the Tree of Life synagogue on October 27. We would have liked to have had the funds on October 28, but we understand that the political process sometimes takes longer than we would like,” said Josh Sayles, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation.
“This is a really big, important step toward protecting not only the Jewish community, but all diverse communities in Pittsburgh,” Sayles said.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].