Windsor

Tips for keeping religious spaces safe at meeting with Windsor police

The information session was organized following the Pittsburgh shooting at a synagogue last fall.

Representatives from various faith communities attended an information session Monday

Barry Horrobin with Windsor Police Service says police will offer free assessments of places of worship on request. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The Windsor Police Service has offered to assess places of worship in Windsor-Essex to provide tips on making the facilities safer.

The offer came as part of an information session held by Barry Horrobin, director of planning and physical resources with Windsor police, for religious leaders from around Windsor-Essex.

Horrobin discussed concepts of crime prevention using environmental design. Religious groups approached the police service following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last fall to ask for guidance.

"We do other things that fall in the realm of public safety, and this is one of them," said Horrobin.

Sinan Yasarlar with the Windsor Islamic Association says the importance of being vigilant and having strong ties with the neighbours was stressed during the information session. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The Windsor Islamic Association, Beth-El Windsor and Glenwood United Church were just a few congregations represented at the meeting.

"[The police] really stressed that you have to be vigilant and it's always good to have good relations with your neighbours, because they can be your eyes and ears as well," said Sinan Yasarlar, director of public relations at WIA.

Some other tips given include the following:

  • Keeping the facility well-maintained.
  • Motion-activated lighting for backs of buildings instead of constant lighting.
  • Being vigilant of unknown parked cars or people.
  • Bars for low-lying windows.

Yasarlar said the police are happy to do an assessment of individual properties to identify areas which can be improved for increase safety.

However, many of those tips only address crimes such as thefts, vandalism and breaking and entering.

"There's not as much you can do to prevent, if I can use that, to outright prevent an act of terror that's happened elsewhere," said Horrobin.

In those cases, sometimes it's about being more vigilant and being more aware of "behavioural cues" which might raise alarms, according to him.

Horrobin stressed the importance of community and how it has been encouraging to see the different faith communities "join hands" for this meeting.

"They truly care about one another and they want to help each other out as well, and there's a great strength from a crime prevention perspective when you have that rooted in place."

With files from Sanjay Maru

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