MoCo Council Approves Grant Funding To Pay for Additional Security at Faith Institutions

MoCo Council Approves Grant Funding To Pay for Additional Security at Faith Institutions

Action sparked by October shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue

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An October shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead has spurred Montgomery County officials to action.

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved a special appropriation of $200,000 to the county Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security’s fiscal 2019 budget in an effort to assist local congregations seeking to expand security at their places of worship.

The county’s action comes after 11 people were killed Oct. 27 at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Suspected gunman Robert Bowers faces 29 federal charges stemming from the shooting.

All Montgomery County congregations are invited to apply for grants to “augment their resources already expended” for security improvements, outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett wrote in a memorandum to council members.

“Recent national events warrant that the County reinforce its support with action,” a council staff report says. “Therefore, it is urgent that we act without delay to protect the public interest and to assist our faith-based communities with resources to provide enhanced security services.”

Grant applications will be reviewed by a panel consisting of emergency management personnel and county police, which will consider risk, need and intended use of funds in determining awards. The organizations chosen can use the funds to offset current costs for security staff or add security personnel, but can’t use the money for physical security enhancements. Grant funds can also be used to hire or contract an expert to conduct a security assessment or develop a security plan, according to council documents.

The grant funding is a one-time allocation, and incoming County Executive Marc Elrich, who takes office next week, will be tasked with deciding whether continued support is needed.

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