The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, May 10, 2016 held a workshop with leaders of houses of worship to prepare them for a safe Ramadan in Columbus, Ohio.
Areas covered at the workshop included Communication and Incident Planning; Emergency Action Plan Development; Reporting Suspicious Activity; Emergency vs. Non-Emergency Calls; Coordinating with First Responders and Resources and Training Opportunities.
Other areas included Partners Achieving Community Transformation, PACT program; Fire Evacuation Plans; Coordinating with First Responders (Ambulance and Fire Fighters)’ Resources and Training Opportunities and Reporting Hate crimes, Threats and Vandalism.
Resource persons were drawn from the private sector, Columbus Police Department, Columbus Department of Fire Service, Franklin County Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In his contribution, security consultant, Patrick Shaw emphasized planning to prevent security breaches and team work in houses of worship, adding that “it is very important to say something when you see something.”
Also, Franklin County Homeland Security expert, Fred Bowditch encouraged participants to explore various resources and training opportunities provided by the Central Ohio Volunteers in Public Safety Support, VIPSS, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and other security agencies.
According to him, “the VIPSS programs offer citizens an opportunity of training with life-saving skills to assist law enforcement during times of emergencies and natural disasters.”
“Upon completion, graduates may also assist Law Enforcement by volunteering during community events,” he said, adding that the “extensive eight week training curriculum includes units on disaster preparedness, terrorism prevention and awareness,”
In his opening remark, facilitator of the program, Ahmed Ali said the workshop was organized to facilitate a working relationship with the community to ensure safe Ramadan, adding that “it is important that people know who to contact during emergency situation and when there is a security concerns.”