Governor Newsom Doubles Funding to Bolster Safety and Security in Faith Communities and Takes Action to Immediately Increase Police Presence at Places of Worship

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Governor Gavin Newsom authorized the immediate expansion of funds to bolster safety and security at religious institutions in California amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

SACRAMENTO — Amid heightened fears and concerns among California’s faith communities stemming from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, today Governor Gavin Newsom authorized the immediate expansion of funds to bolster safety and security at religious institutions, places of worship, and faith-based institutions across the state. Today’s announcement authorizes $10 million in state funding to immediately increase police presence at places of worship and authorizes an additional $20 million investment to the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program to provide physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations — including synagogues and mosques — that are at high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes.

WHAT GOVERNOR NEWSOM SAID: “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. No matter how and where one prays, every Californian deserves to be safe.”

“These critical security resources will make a huge difference and send a powerful message when so many in our community are feeling on edge,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Co-Chairs of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “We are deeply grateful to Governor Newsom for his longstanding solidarity with the Jewish community and for standing with us in word and in deed during these challenging times. California cannot stand idly by while the Jewish community or any other vulnerable community is threatened by hate and extremism.”

“We welcome Governor Newsom’s proactive measures to protect Californians,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations California CEO Hussam Ayloush. “California Muslims are increasingly anxious as we observe dangerous rhetoric that continues to dehumanize Palestinians and Muslims, and which leads to a rise in anti-Muslim incidents targeting students, employees, and everyday Muslims in their homes or on the street. Everyone deserves to be safe.”

“The sad reality is we should all be more vigilant during this time,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “Places of worship and faith-based non-profit groups in particular need our help to be better prepared and more secure right now, and this funding will help achieve that. My colleagues and I support Governor Newsom’s spending request, and appreciate this effort to safeguard Californians.”

“We must do everything we can to protect all Californians from hate crimes and violent attacks,” said Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). “And when threats are on the rise, we must respond with urgency. I thank the Governor and our emergency responders for allocating more resources to keep nonprofit groups, religious organizations and all of our state’s diverse communities safe from harm.”

Today’s doubling of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program will increase the total funding available to California’s nonprofits from $20 million to $40 million to increase safety and security. The program fully funds upgrades that include reinforced doors and gates, high-intensity lighting and alarms, access control, and more. The program also promotes emergency preparedness coordination efforts. Religious institutions have until October 27, 2023, to apply for funding.
To further increase safety, the Governor has authorized an immediate authorization of $10 million to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for overtime costs in support of faith communities through in-person security presence at religious institutions and places of worship.  The state will reimburse local governments for these increased costs to help ensure Californians feel safe to worship in their communities. Funding is immediately available and is being administered through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
California is taking nation-leading measures to improve the safety, health, and well-being of the state’s diverse communities. Since 2019, the state has invested over $400 million in funding to increase community resources and address hate, including $217 million in state and federal grants to fund security infrastructure for faith-based and other non-profit institutions and $196 million in anti-hate investments to support community services for victims and survivors of hate acts. Last year, the Governor signed legislation that established the Commission on the State of Hate and improved the tracking of hate crimes. The Governor also signed an executive order in 2022 to further protect communities against hate violence and discrimination. Earlier this summer, California launched CA vs Hate, a new multilingual statewide hotline and website that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts. Reports can be made anonymously by calling 833-8-NO-HATE. For individuals who want to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately or who are in imminent danger, please call 911.