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Borough police increase patrols for holidays

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As Jews throughout the borough get ready for the high holidays — the holiest time of the year — the governor has joined forces with the New York City police commissioner to announce an increase in security.

Gov. George Pataki and Commissioner Ray Kelly Aug. 26 highlighted their plans to boost security from Sept. 6 through Sept. 15 at a Police Department seminar on security concerns and preparations held for the city’s Jewish community leaders.

At the same time, the Queens Jewish Community Council has been meeting with local precincts, politicians and Jewish leaders to go over the security concerns of the Queens Jewish community.

Kelly said additional police officers will patrol Jewish houses of worship for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which begins Sept. 6, and Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of repentance, which starts Sept. 15.

The holidays fall during a period of high-profile events around the city: Sept. 11 memorial ceremonies, the Sept. 10 primary election, the National Football League kickoff party in Times Square and the U.S. Open, which will put strain on the department.

“We have had meetings with three precincts and have scheduled two more,” said Manny Behar, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council based in Forest Hills. “What happened was that the police outlined their plan and the community expressed their concerns.”

In past years security during the Jewish holidays has been beefed up, but in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks and the problems in the Middle East the Police Department is taking every precaution.

He said Jewish institutions provided the police with schedules for services so the police know when to visit. The community, he said, did not want the police cars only to drive by but to have police enter the houses of worship to check that everything is secure.

One of the main concerns, Behar said, was the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing Meadows, which is taking police away from borough communities.

Pataki has pledged to assign state officers to patrol synagogues and communities if necessary. In addition, he said, the northeast Queens commander said more police officers will be brought into the borough.

“City and state law enforcement agencies are continuing to take every precaution so that the high holy days can be observed peacefully without incident,” Pataki said.

The governor also pointed out that the forum gave community leaders important information about precautions to be taken during the high holy days and enabled law enforcement agencies to better understand the specific concerns of the Jewish community during the religious holidays.

Kelly said the city would be on high alert and has told law enforcement agencies across the state to be ready with security forces. The Counter-Terrorism Network will be communicating terrorism-related messages and information to the state’s 543 police departments.

“We are pretty confident that the police have the situation in hand,” Behar said. “Every precaution is being taken to make sure we are able to celebrate the High Holidays securely.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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