2003-04-19 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Rabbi Blaine Addresses Homeland Security
by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader
Chatting with Chapey

Dr. Geraldine ChapeyDr. Geraldine Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Rabbi Blaine Addresses Homeland Security

Rabbi Alan Blaine, the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El, scheduled a very important community meeting on Thursday, April 10th, to discuss homeland security.  Rabbi Blaine called together members of the community and the elected officials representing the Rockaways and the mainland.  Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Congressman Weiner’s chief of staff, and I were present.

At the Rabbi’s invitation members of the New York City Police Department task force on terrorism gave a power point presentation on various aspects of terrorism.  It was led by Detective Lynda Marmara and Police Officer Carl Calderone.

The NYPD recommends that we, in the community, keep the cops well informed. Each individual is responsible for being alert and aware. There is a terrorist information center in each precinct. There is a direct correlation between terrorists activities and criminal activities.  If you spot any suspicious situation call 1-888-NYC-SAFE.

If you identify what you believe to be a criminal or terrorist act, do not take direct action. The NYPD recommends that you carefully note a description of the person or persons, as accurately as possible, including:  sex, race, age (approximately), height (use two inch blocks), build, hair, complexion, peculiarities, clothing, weapons and particulars of their escape. They also recommend that you closely inspect any vehicle involved for the license number, year, make, model, color, body type, number of passengers and any other unusual markings.

The NYPD recommends that civilians sharpen their observation skills by (1) employing good listening skills, (2) remaining objective and not letting personal feelings interfere, (3) looking at the entire situation, (4) watching for non-verbal communication signals and (5) using appropriate feedback.

There is a new reporting procedure for civilians: (1) 911 is for life and death situations or for a crime in progress and (2) 311 is for all other police matters.

Rabbi Blaine is an outstanding spokesperson for the community.  He is taking the positive step of alerting us to prepare for a possible disaster or act of terrorism.  He is encouraging the appointment of a director of the local civilian emergency response team.  The teams are being formed in neighborhoods to assist communities in taking care of themselves in the aftermath of a significant catastrophic event when first responders are overburdened. Mrs. Selma Kaplan, the President of the Temple, focused our attention on a very important issue - the safety of our children.  Mrs. Kaplan is concerned about children who may need medication or have special needs who could be in school when a disaster takes place and who may not be able to leave the premises for long periods of time due to a lock down.

The Rabbi also expressed concern about people in our neighborhoods who live alone, are older or who have immediate medical needs.  He stressed that individuals in these positions should alert the local precinct so that their name will be on the list in case of an emergency.

Rabbi Blaine is starting a homeland security committee. Our hospitals have received special training since 9/11 in handling these emergency situations.  At the meeting literature was distributed from the American Red Cross website on disaster counseling materials.  In addition, an emergency plan awareness for faculty was available for parents, educators and community people.

I would like to thank Rabbi Alan Blaine for taking this important step.  I look forward to continuing to work with him, and the committee, on this essential matter.

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