May 21, 2019

Koretz Calls For Faith-Based Security Task Force

City leaders and law enforcement officials came together for a Nov. 2 public safety meeting in Los Angeles. Photo by Ryan Torok

In the wake of the Oct. 27 Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz has called for the creation of a “faith-based security task force.”

Koretz made the announcement at a Nov. 2 public safety meeting attended by about 70 city officials, law enforcement representatives and Jewish community leaders at Young Israel of Century City synagogue in the Pico-Robertson area. Also in attendance were representatives of the Los Angeles Shmira Civilian Safety Patrol, Hatzolah of Los Angeles Emergency Medical Services and the nonprofit Community Security Service.

While Koretz shared few details about his vision for the task force, he said he hoped it would address ways that religious communities could collaborate on public safety. (Koretz represents Council District 5, which stretches from Encino in the San Fernando Valley to the Palms neighborhood in West L.A.)

Gregory Martayan, Koretz’s director of public safety and special assignments, said the meeting was scheduled to be held before the first Shabbat following the shootings so that people in the community could be reassured of their safety prior to attending Shabbat services.

At the meeting, City Controller Ron Galperin spoke about what people could do to help provide a sense of security. He said if someone sees something troubling on social media, they have a responsibility to speak up. He also spoke of the importance of Jews sharing their history with anybody who is willing to listen. Finally, he urged people to make their political conversations more civil.

Los Angeles Police Department Captain Valencia Thomas of the West L.A. Division said the community would see a ramped-up security presence at synagogues over the following weekend.

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, director of the Orthodox Union’s West Coast Region office in Los Angeles, told those at the meeting that, aside from concerns about shootings, he has experienced people yelling “nasty things” at him when he has walked along Pico Boulevard.

“At this moment, our community does not feel safe and secure,” Kalinsky said. 

LAPD representatives recommended people become acquainted with their local police division and report concerns.