Oakland Press: Sen. Gary Peters promotes legislation to boost security at places of worship

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) met with faith leaders and law enforcement officials in Southfield Friday, Nov. 8, to discuss his bipartisan efforts to improve security for faith-based institutions in Michigan.

Peters highlighted his bipartisan legislation that recently advanced in the Senate to provide grants to nonprofits and religious organizations to help secure their facilities against potential terrorist attacks.

“Places of worship should be a safe haven, where people can practice their religion without fear of being attacked. But tragically, the rise in the number of violent attacks against synagogues, mosques and churches across the country has shattered that expectation,” said Peters.

Religious leaders from the Detroit area attended the roundtable at St. John Armenian Church to discuss their security concerns and how they can benefit from the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

Law enforcement officials, including representatives from the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency and the Michigan State Police also joined the discussion to advise attendees about best practices for improving security in churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, and other houses of worship.

Peters’ bipartisan Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations from Terrorism Act, which he introduced with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would authorize $75 million annually over the next five years for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

Of the $75 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $25 million will be available for organizations in suburban and rural areas.

Under the legislation, funding may be used for target-hardening activities, training for personnel, and other activities to help secure these institutions and the people they serve from violent attacks.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the legislation in June.

Peters, a Rochester native, is the ranking member of the committee.

By:  Anne Runkle
Source: Oakland Press