‘Changing world’: Churches, non-profits invited to Beaumont security event

Published 12:06 am Saturday, August 17, 2019


State and regional entities are joining forces to help protect non-profits and faith-based organizations from acts of terror, they said this week.

The Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center and the state’s Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Division are presenting a Nonprofit Security Enhancement Workshop from 8:30-noon Sept. 5. The event will be held at the Foundation for Southeast Texas, 700 N. Street, Beaumont.

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“Our world is sadly changing,” said Deborah Drago, executive director of the Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center. “You can tell just by the things we have seen across our nation.”

“We have history,” said Sue Landry, director of the Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Division of SETRPC.

That history of terrorism in Texas and in Southeast Texas includes acts of terror in locations such as El Paso, Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe. In those cases, mass shootings occurred at a department store, a church and a school. A bomb exploded at an Episcopal church in Beaumont in spring 2018.

Funding has been made available through Homeland Security and through the Governor’s Office for competitive grants to bolster security at churches and 501 c 3 non-profits which, “due to the faith, ideology or beliefs,” might be at a higher risk for terror attacks, Drago said in announcing the workshop.

Drago said about a dozen organizations have signed up for the workshop and signups are encouraged through Sept. 3. RSVP to setxnonprofit or call 409-832-6565 to register.

She said participants could sign up for training about security risks as well as how to apply for the grants. She said at least one Southeast Texas organization received such a grant two years ago and three applied in 2018.

Officer Danny Valdez of the Beaumont Police Department and Adriana Lopez, nonprofit security grant program manager will speak at the workshop.

Landry said the grants would involve “hardening” security at churches and non-profits by installing security cameras and locks.

She said Beaumont police would visit non-profits and churches to advise them how to bolster security.

“This encourages our community to be prepared,” Landry said. “It’s about acknowledging that there are ways we can be better prepared in case the unthinkable happens.”