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Calif. to increase police presence at religious institutions amid hate crime fears

“No matter how and where one prays, every Californian deserves to be safe,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said after approving millions in funding for additional policing


A security guard stands watch in front of a synagogue on Oct. 9, 2023, in Los Angeles, California.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

By Jeremy Childs
Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved millions in state funding to boost the presence of police at synagogues, mosques and other places of worship as fears ratchet up over the possibility of local violence stemming from the Israel-Hamas war.

The expansion will allow for the disbursement of $10 million to fund police officers at religious institutions by reimbursing overtime costs incurred.

The funding will also provide an additional $20 million to the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, doubling its budget this year. The program allows for nonprofits in the state to apply for grant funds for increased security measures, such as reinforced doors, cameras and alarms.

“Amid the horror unfolding in the Middle East following the unconscionable terrorist attacks in Israel, California is authorizing the immediate deployment of funds to increase security and police presence at places of worship across the state,” Newsom said in a statement. “No matter how and where one prays, every Californian deserves to be safe.”

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), who wrote the legislation that led to the creation of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in 2018, said the program was key for moments like this.

“The sad reality is that we know, when there’s violence and conflict in the Middle East, it can lead to spikes of antisemitism in the United States,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel emphasized the grant program was for all minority groups that encounter hate and oppression. He said the grant could be a lifeline for smaller nonprofits and religious organizations that might not have the resources to budget for expensive security measures.

“The state can come in and can help ease that burden,” he said. “It goes a really long way in protecting life, which is ultimately the goal here.”

Religious institutions and other nonprofits that seek to utilize the grant program have until Oct. 27 to apply for funds.


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