Bill would build safer communities by enhancing security at institutions facing increasing threats
DENVER, CO – Legislation sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Iman Jodeh to help nonprofits like synagogues and mosques pay for enhanced security passed the Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee by a vote of 9-2.
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in violent threats against religious and nonprofit organizations, and it’s clear they need additional resources to enhance security measures in places of worship, schools and community centers,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “I am scared for our communities. The pandemic has led to increased anti-semitism, violence and threats. This funding will make Colorado safer for everyone by providing nonprofit institutions the resources they need to protect their communities.”
“This bill will make our communities safer by providing additional resources to nonprofit organizations for security upgrades in the wake of increasing threats of violence targeting minority communities,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “Everyone should feel safe in their houses of worship, community centers, schools and community spaces, and that’s what this bill will do. There’s a clear need for additional funding, and I’m proud our state is stepping up to fill this gap and provide these critical resources.”
HB22-1077 would create the Colorado Nonprofit Security Grant Program in the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The program would offer grants to eligible entities to enhance the physical security of Colorado’s faith-based and charitable organizations. Currently, the federal government provides grants for this purpose through the Department of Homeland Security, however the increase in threats combined with not enough funding have led to unmet security needs for Colorado-based organizations. As drafted, the bill would provide $1.5 million for these grants with a maximum award of $50,000, allowing nearly30 additional Colorado organizations to complete critical security upgrades for their facilities.
Minority communities are facing a growing threat from violent extremists who are targeting shared spaces such as mosques and synagogues. In Colorado, there has been an increase in violent rhetoric and threats. In 2019, there was an attempted bombing at a synagogue in Pueblo and an individual was recently arrested after threatening congregants with a weapon outside of the Downtown Denver Islamic Center.