Wyandanch, NY – Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg partnered with the Town of Babylon, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the Babylon Anti-Bias Task Force and the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service to present the “Protecting Places of Worship Forum” on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Tanner Park Senior Center in Copiague.
“Hate does not have a place in Suffolk County. In recent years, reports of hate crimes at places of worship have increased, and studies have shown that a high percentage go unreported. This is not something that we can tolerate in any form or allow to fester,” said Legislator Richberg. “We need to do everything we can to make sure that our religious institutions have all of the tools at their disposal to protect themselves and stay prepared in case of an emergency. I want to thank District Attorney Tierney and his team, Babylon Anti-Bias Task Force Liaison and Deputy Commissioner of Babylon's Department of Human Services Marcus Duffin, Councilman DuWayne Gregory, our amazing presenters, and all of our clergy leaders who came out tonight.”
The forum featured an information session for faith leaders on ways they can prevent and respond to hate crimes against places of worship and other emergency situations. Presentations were made by Richard Zacarese, Chief Investigator with the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, and FEMA's Faith-based Preparedness Coordinator, Race Hodges, who shared information on federal grants and programs available for faith-based agencies to upgrade their security systems.
"I was thrilled to see community members of all faiths representing their respective temples, churches and mosques in attendance at our Protecting Houses of Worship event. It is important to ensure that our sanctuaries remain safe havens of peace in Suffolk County. This event gave us a chance to have a dialogue on best safety practices and exchange ideas on how to best safeguard our houses of worship," said District Attorney Tierney. "Thanks to Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg and Town of Babylon Councilman DuWayne Gregory for partnering with us to host this very important event. In addition, it was very reassuring to hear the informative presentations from the Department of Justice and FEMA who also joined us."
“There used to be a time when our places of worship were a safe refuge, but no longer,” said Town of Babylon Councilman DuWayne Gregory. “As our country becomes more divided, those with ill will find them accessible targets. Thank you, County Legislator Jason Richberg and District Attorney Ray Tierney for providing this important information to the community.”