The Community Outreach office of the United States Department of Justice assembled a panel of top subject-matter experts to provide us with practical advice to keep our mosques and schools safe. CIOGC was honored to host Kevin Kethley, Assistant Special Agent of the FBI Chicago Field Office, Lisa Mallory-Nance, Emergency Response Coordinator, Cook County Health and Human Services, Harpreet Mokha, National Program Manager for Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) communities, and Andrianna Kastanek, Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney Office in Chicago, Illinois as panelists.
The workshop panelists offered safety tips and measures to follow to prepare for certain emergencies. One presentation covered best practices when encountering an active shooter. The presenter covered issues related to evacuating, responding and reporting to law enforcement authorities when an active shooter is on your premises.
We were also provided with a number of resources and government programs available to community members. The panelists emphasized the importance of education, outreach, and having ongoing dialogues with local law enforcement officials.
Having a safety plan and being prepared is crucial because “it helps reduces the impact of [an] emergency. The idea behind that is [to assure] that you are safe, and your community members are safe,” Mallory-Nance stated.
This workshop aims to encourage the community to becoming proactive rather than reactive. “We, as a community, are often crisis-based,” indicated Mokha. “We need to be more engaged, on every level.”
This workshop is a first step towards securing houses of worship and schools. Continuous efforts and serious commitment are required from community members to create a safer environment in our masjid and schools.
“Our goal is more than to have a plan on a shelf that never gets open, or having a cup of coffee and talk,” emphasized Mallory-Nance. “I am volunteering to help.”
CIOGC sincerely urges community members to take advantage of this opportunity..
“This is going to be an ongoing process,” stated Abdullah Mitchell, CIOGC Executive Director. “Take it back to your schools and Masajeds, so we can develop the infrastructure we need to protect our community.”