Tuesday, October 30

Sheriffs Live On-Site At Local Synagogues?

The news was discussing the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and how it relates to Jacksonville when I thought I heard that two of the three main synagogues in Jax have JSO officers who live on-site. Maybe I heard it wrong, or maybe the news meant there's a house right next to these places of worship that's rented out to JSO.

I went back and watched the news report, and Ben Becker definitely said this:
Etz Chaim and the Jacksonville Jewish Center both actually have JSO officers who live on-site.
Just wondering why that was already a thing here in Jacksonville. Do we have a history of threats against synagogues? Is this something a lot of synagogues do across the country? I didn't reach out to anyone to find out because I'm not an actual reporter, but that would be interesting information to know. Beyond that, are there a lot of Mosques that have police officers who live there? Buddhist Temples? I just don't know.

My background is in the Lutheran Church, where it used to be the fashion to have a house next door for the pastor. Later, those houses were sometimes used for a teacher at the day school. Now, I don't see as many of these houses used for more than storage, but if it made sense, I guess a police officer could live there. However, Lutheran churches haven't been targets of hate crimes or rhetoric for some time, and we even seem to get along with Catholics pretty well these days.

I guess if you attend one of those mega churches, I'd find out what the security is like there. I believe most small churches kind of fly under the radar, but I bet if someone is looking to make a name for himself, he'll target a large church. Then again, the largest churches probably already have some police presence in directing traffic for worship services, so maybe the smaller ones are in danger.

The problem is that politics and religion are those topics that can get people going, and we've got lots of guns and plenty of ammunition in this country. If someone has it in his head that a former church or someone else's church has wronged him, he might make that leap to believing he's been chosen as the one to stop those people. We've certainly seen it over the years in politics, so it is likely to continue with religion, as well.

I suppose we could have active shooter drills at houses of worship. In my head, I think if everyone grabs a Bible and Hymnal and launches them at the assailant, it might work out. But in the second before I'd do that, I'd probably try to get my kids protected as a natural instinct, which would likely make the effort a second too late. Terrorists always have the weapons of surprise and fear, and you can't really prepare for those when you're just living your life in the suburbs.

In the end, I hope it doesn't come to having to have police officers living at all of our schools and churches. That's 350,000 churches and 140,000 schools. If we have about 800,000 police officers in the country, that means more than half of them would be living in a church or school, so I guess we could make it a thing. I'd just rather not.

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