(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, several hours after Mayor Bowser met with faith leaders from around the District to discuss ways the faith community can help prevent hate crimes and reduce gun violence, the Bowser Administration convened the inaugural meeting of the Interfaith Preparedness and Advisory Group (IPAG) – a joint effort to bring together the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs (MORA), the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) to facilitate collaboration with the District’s faith-based communities. The agencies will work together with faith-based partners to enhance security efforts related to hate-based threats.
“While we continue defending DC values from the forces of hate and bigotry, the Interfaith Preparedness and Advisory Group will ensure DC Government is working hand in hand with our faith-based and community partners to support and protect places of worship throughout the District,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through these partnerships, we will empower our faith-based partners to be part of building a safer, stronger DC.”
The creation of IPAG comes four months after the Bowser Administration announced nearly $1 million in security and preparedness grants for District non-profit organizations operating at faith-affiliated institutions. The grants support efforts for target hardening, planning, training, and other security-related activities, and are managed through HSEMA as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
“The formation of the IPAG is a huge accomplishment for the District,” said Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, Director of HSEMA, which manages the District’s new advisory group. “It will provide a platform for information sharing among public safety agencies and leaders of faith-based organizations.”
Through the IPAG, HSEMA will be responsible for facilitating quarterly meetings, identifying grant funding opportunities, monitoring current and emerging security threats and trends, and advising public safety agencies on the unique needs of faith-based communities.