Security incident at Beth El Congregation
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SecurityIndiviudal attempted to gain entry to the building

Security incident at Beth El Congregation

'The response worked as it should,' according to Jewish community security director

Security director of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Shawn Brokos (Photo by James Uncapher)
Security director of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Shawn Brokos (Photo by James Uncapher)

A person attempted to gain access to Beth El Congregation of the South Hills in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 7, according to a June 17 email sent to congregants from Beth El’s executive director Chris Benton and its president, Susie Seletz.

Scott Township Police immediately responded to the security alarm that was activated, but the person had already left the premises.

“The police have fully investigated the incident and increased patrols around our synagogue,” the email stated. Noting that Shawn Brokos, security director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh had been notified, the email added that the congregation continues “to take security seriously, implementing steps recommended by law enforcement and security experts to keep our building, staff, and congregants safe.”

On June 18, Brokos informed executive and security directors of local Jewish institutions of the incident.

“Beth El leadership and I worked closely with the police on this matter, and the investigation has now concluded,” that email stated. “Beth El’s security procedures worked just as they should – the alarm went off, police responded, Beth El leadership was notified, lighting and surveillance cameras were well placed and working, and all points of entry were securely locked.”

“This was certainly a suspicious incident,” Brokos told the Chronicle. “But security protocols were in place and the response worked as it should.”

The incident was captured on surveillance videos, which showed the individual attempting to open three doors of the building but not using any force, she said. There was no vandalism involved.

The incident should serve as a reminder, Brokos added, that “we should always be mindful of security and be vigilant.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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