Memphis Jewish community’s security chief urges vigilance after Pittsburgh shooting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Saturday's shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue is bringing up concerns of security at synagogues across the country and here in the Memphis.

Stuart Frisch is the security director for the Secure Community Network, a group that serves Memphis' Jewish community. He says he's saddened but not shocked after the devastating news in Pittsburgh.

With his duty to keep the communities safe, he says he works around the clock, putting together plans in the Jewish community. But he says there's no right answer — those plans change every day.

"I go back to the drawing board every morning and leave every day worried that I didn't quite finish everything," Frisch said.

He's Jewish and is a member of the community he secures.

"The thought that I could be targeted strictly because of my religion the same way Jews were in 1939 in Poland and Germany is terrifying."

We've seen it time and time again: People across the world targeting faith-based communities, leaving members on edge.

Frisch says this is why we must pay close attention in our places of worship, just as we would anywhere else.

"We have to not be in a state of denial that there is such thing as a safe place anymore," he said.

According to the FBI, statistics show Jewish people were the victims of more reported hate crimes in 2016 than any other religious group, and Frisch says social media has played a crucial part in a lot of these crimes.

"A lot of times we're seeing conflict that starts in cyberspace moved to real space," Frisch said.

In this case the gunman is believed to have made statements targeting Jews on social media.

Frisch recommends everyone to pay attention to what people are posting.

"That has absolutely changed the way we do business in the security world," he said.

He also says nationwide, the security in Jewish communities has changed drastically.

As a retired Memphis police officer, he has increased the communication with local authorities.

And says he knows every threat to faith-based communities aren't always the same. That is why it's important to have a plan, and he trusts the ones he's implemented.

"All communities of faith need to be vigilant, need to practice awareness, prevention, protection and we need to have a plan."

Unfortunately, Frisch says, he doesn't think these types of headlines are going to stop any time soon, but it's up to us to stay alert and cautious.

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