Gary Peters

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., cosponsored two amendments with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to legislation that passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee recently reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security. Both amendments were strongly supported by the Jewish Federation of North America.

One amendment extends the Nonprofit Security Grant Program geographically so that nonprofits outside specifically designated urban areas still at risk of a violent attack can apply for funding to enhance security. The program supports physical security enhancements and other prevention, response and recovery efforts. This builds on Peters’ efforts calling for increased funding for the program last year in the midst of threats against Jewish centers and schools.

The second amendment encourages collaboration on stronger security by including nonprofit representation in the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series (JCTAWS). The workshop series — which is primarily in larger urban areas — addresses emerging terrorist threats and best practices for local jurisdictions to protect against terrorist attacks. It currently brings together law enforcement, first responders and public health officials to test readiness plans on how to improve response plans to attacks.

“Since Sept. 11, nonprofits, generally, and Jewish communal institutions, specifically, have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks,” said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America. “The Portman-Peters amendments will reinforce critical engagement of law enforcement, homeland security and community organizations working together on the safety and security of at-risk communal institutions and provide for greater access to resources to the nonprofit sector that help supplement the work of local and federal law enforcement to keep our communities safe.”