JewishColumbus Town Hall Recap

During a Town hall hosted by JewishColumbus on Sunday, January 21, 2024, New Albany Police Chief Greg Jones engaged in a discussion concerning strategies for addressing antisemitic activity and crime. The following highlights the topics addressed during the community Q&A session.

How does your agency learn about the antisemitism threat in your area of responsibility?

Chief Jones: Relatively speaking, we do not receive many threats regarding antisemitism in our community. We visit and monitor Jewish community sites regularly and receive intelligence from the Statewide Terrorism Analysis & Crime Center (STACC) that pertain to issues both home and abroad. We also learn of some threats or concerns from residents who receive threats or have concerns.

How do your agencies cooperate and share information about antisemitic threats and incidents between local, state, and federal agencies? 

Chief Jones: We share information through the Statewide Terrorism Analysis & Crime Center (STACC) and the Central Ohio Intelligence Network (COIN). Agencies also regularly share information with each other during meetings, calls, and other communication efforts.

Are there any emerging or increasing antisemitic threats of particular concern to you?

Chief Jones: As FBI Director Christopher Wray has stated, “The greatest terrorism threat to our homeland is posed by lone actors or small cells who typically radicalize to violence online and look to attack soft targets with easily accessible weapons.” Evidence suggests a significant rise in online threats to Jewish communities since the onset of the Israel-Hamas War. We will continue to proactively work with our partners to identify and eliminate any potential threats to our community.

What initiatives and efforts does your agency use to address threats motivated by antisemitism?

Chief Jones: Threats motivated by antisemitism should be met with urgency. We prioritize prevention, information gathering, and sharing of intelligence with our law enforcement partners here in Central Ohio in addition to state and federal law enforcement.

Can you share any examples of incidents motivated by antisemitism on which your agencies cooperated?

Chief Jones: We recently responded to a swatting incident at Temple Beth Shalom by collaborating with the Columbus Fire Bomb Squad to sweep the property and eliminate concerns.

How does your agency address public safety for protests and counter-protests, including coordination between your agencies regarding them?

Chief Jones: We recognize and respect free speech rights. Having said that, we monitor protests and seek assistance from other agencies when needed.  We also reached out to protest groups to ensure they understand relevant law and work with them to ensure protests are safe for the protestors and the public.

What is your advice to our synagogues, preschools, schools, community centers, and other agencies for keeping people secure from threats in their buildings?

Chief Jones: Emphasize awareness. If you see something, say something. Conduct site assessments for potential improved security measures to help secure facilities and report suspicious behaviors so that law enforcement can investigate. If you are interested in a site assessment, please contact us for additional information.

What is your advice to residents for keeping their home secure from threats?

Chief Jones: Maintain awareness and have a plan for various incidents. Utilizing technology that you can incorporate into your home, such as surveillance cameras and alarms, is helpful. Communicate specific threats to the police department for assistance.

What is one last takeaway regarding your agency or law enforcement you’d like to leave with the audience?

Chief Jones: New Albany is consistently one of Ohio’s safest communities. One reason for this low crime rate is our proactive approach to law enforcement, engagement with the community and the support we receive from our residents in reporting suspicious activity and crime. Whether performing vacation house checks, teaching women’s self-defense courses, patrolling neighborhoods, or conducting bicycle safety programs for children, our officers understand that strong relationships set the foundation for a safer community. Our New Albany officers and staff are also deeply committed to upholding the values of professionalism, integrity, respect, and compassion for those they serve and protect.