Beverly Hills Police Increase Vigilance After Hate Crimes

With the recent vandalism at the Beverly Hills Nessah Synagogue still fresh in everyone’s minds, last Sunday’s machete attack inside a New York rabbi’s home and the deadly Texas shooting at a church starkly reinforced that attacks on faith communities are not showing signs of abatement. 

In the wake of these attacks, on Dec. 31 Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli assured the community that BHPD was doing everything possible to protect the City. 

“I wanted to let you know … that your safety and security remain our highest priority,” Spagnoli wrote in a Nixle alert. 

“The Beverly Hills Police Department has directed significant resources to enhancing security at all of our religious institutions and schools,” Spagnoli emphasized 

In addition to conducting high visibility patrols, security checks and foot patrols, Spagnoli wrote that the BHPD also offers security assessments and safety training to mitigate threats as part of the City’s crime prevention efforts. 

Following the attack in the rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, on the seventh night of Hanukkah, Simon Wiesenthal Center Dean Rabbi Marvin Heir called on the president to instruct the FBI to create a special task force on anti-Semitism. Hier established the international Jewish human rights organization in the Pico-Robertson district in 1977 to combat hate and anti-Semitism around the world. 

Spagnoli said the BHPD Intelligence Unit remains in close contact with Federal and community partners, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation, to stay connected and respond appropriately when there is a threat. 

“We are committed to continue to work closely with our faith-based institutions on crime prevention, security assessments and safety,” she said. 

Anton Nathaniel Redding, 24, was arrested and charged with the Dec. 14 vandalism at Nessah Synagogue where after 

breaking in and ransacking the building, he damaged Jewish relics and holy books. He plead not guilty during his arraignment and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 30 Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was arrested and charged in connection with the stabbing attack of five Hasidic Jews in the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, roughly 36 miles north of New York City, on Dec. 29. He pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. His next court date is set for Jan. 13. 

Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, opened fire in the West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 29, killing two people before being shot dead by Jack Wilson, the head of the church’s volunteer security team. 

“As demonstrated in our comprehensive police response to the Nessah Synagogue Hate Crime, we stand with our community in solidarity, to protect and serve, and commit to keeping Beverly Hills a safe place to live, work and worship,” Spagnoli wrote the community. 

Residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activity directly to 911, the City’s non-emergency line at 310-550-4951 or text “TIP BEVHILLSPD” and an anonymous message to 888-777. 

BHPD Sgt. Matt Stout can be contacted for questions related to a security assessment or training at 310-285-2192. 


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