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Jewish leaders consider ramping up security at Central Coast synagogues

Jewish leaders in Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo are meeting on Wednesday to discuss security measures at local synagogues. The special meeting is in response to Saturday’s deadly shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue.

“We’ve already talked about the exit routes we have in the temple and things that can be changed to make them better,” said Suzanne Levy, president at the Temple Beth El synagogue in Santa Maria.

“We’ll work with local enforcement and other security agencies,” temple board of directors member, Kenneth Wolf added.

On Saturday evening, Jewish leaders asked the Santa Maria Police Department to patrol their synagogue while they hosted a movie night.

In San Luis Obispo, things were no different.

“One of the temples in San Luis, they had a squad car actually sitting there during an event they had yesterday,” Levy shared.

“We’re definitely there for them if they request extra patrols for their neighborhood there,” Lieutenant Jesse Silva from the Santa Maria Police Department.

Silva said the department is prepared to respond to active shooter situations.

“The Santa Maria Police Department has ongoing training when dealing with mass casualty events such as the one in Pittsburgh.”

And while leaders said the local Jewish community is on edge, they said they haven’t felt threatened in Santa Maria in the past.

“We’ve always felt welcomed here, we’ve always been a part of the community going way back,” Wolf shared.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump weighed in on the shooting, telling reporters that an armed guard at the Tree of Life synagogue could’ve stopped the shooter sooner. Leaders at Temple Beth El said they’ve talked about hiring security before, but don’t have the funds for a full-time guard.

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