In an unprecedented event coordinated byJoe Dweck,Community Liaison to the NYPD, commanders from the three police precincts which server the Brooklyn Sephardic community, as well as a high ranking member of the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Unit and a representative of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, came together to advise community leaders on security matters. The gathering took place on Tuesday March 16th at the Ohel David & Shlomo Synagogue in Manhattan Beach.

The meeting was kicked off with a presentation by Deputy Inspector Phil Vangostein aimed to help attendees learn how to protect themselves and the community from terrorism. In a previously unreleased video of terrorist attacks from around the world, Inspector Vangostein demonstrated a common tactic in terror attacks worldwide. In order to inflict maximum damage, terrorists often detonate and small initial explosion followed by a more deadly one once the area is swarming with rescue personnel and good Samaritans who have come to help the initial victims.

The presentation had a profound effect as participants were shocked by the unforgettable carnage. Of course the purpose of the shocking video was to encourage people to resist the instinct to descend upon the site of a terrorist attack in order to help victims, without first verifying the safety of the site with the authorities. The audience was also advised to call 911 and be safe rather than sorry when encountering a suspicious item, person or situation.

The presentation pointed out that terrorists have no specific profile; like Jihad Jane, they come in any gender and a variety of physical descriptions. The key is to be alert to suspicious behavior and notify the authorities when necessary.

The Inspector was especially open and approachable and stressed that he is available to the community to help with any issues or questions that they might have, and very willing to repeat the presentation for other groups.

The meeting also featured presentations by the commanders of the precincts where the community resides: Captain Mastrokostas of the 61 Pct (the Shaarez Zion, Manhattan Beach, Ocean Parkway neighborhoods); Deputy Inspector John Sprague of the 66 Pct (Beth Torah, Boro Park); and Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte of the 70 Pct (Kol Israel, Bedford area).

The commanders outlined many of the crime reduction techniques that have been implemented by the NYPD and highlighted the incredible reduction in crime over the past two decades. The presentations were followed by a question and answer session. In one exchange an attendee complained about multiple break-ins of his car – but revealed that he had not reported the break-ins since nothing of value was stolen. The case provided a perfect illustration the importance of reporting every crime, even when it is not discovered until later. Calls to 911 and crime reports automatically get logged and draw attention to the areas where the crime occurs. Repeated calls draw more attention and more manpower to problem areas.

Representing the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Henna White described the programs that they provide to schools and yeshivas to teach about Internet threats to children, scared-straight programs for children at risk and truancy programs to keep children in school.

After the successful presentation, NYPD leaders offered to repeat the program for the community in the future. For more information, contact Community Liaison Joe Dweck at joedweck@aol.com or 917-821-7877.