The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia launched an expanded community security initiative in partnership with the Secure Community Network in late September.
SCN is the official safety and security organization for the Jewish community in North America.
Designed to significantly increase safety and security, this concerted effort is for all those who participate in synagogues, day schools, community centers, service organizations and other centers of Jewish life throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.
Serving as Greater Philadelphia’s full-time security executive is public safety expert and law enforcement veteran Scott Kerns, who assumed the role of community security director on Sept. 28. Leveraging the national resources and tools of SCN, Kerns is focused on the development and administration of a comprehensive program that provides risk mitigation, security consultations, assessments and training to Jewish institutions throughout the region. In addition, Kerns serves as the Jewish community’s main liaison to local, state and federal law enforcement in the region.
An integral part of this community-based role, Kerns leads education and awareness training through SCN’s flagship training courses, such as “Be Aware: Introduction to Situational Awareness,” “Countering Active Threat Training” and “Stop the Bleed.”
“As America faces dramatic increases in antisemitic threats and incidents, Jewish communal security has never been more important,” said Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Michael Balaban. “Through this new partnership, we will enhance our commitment to security and ensure we are applying a comprehensive, best-practice approach. Scott’s extensive experience makes him a tremendous asset for this effort.”
Philadelphia joins the growing network of Federations and communities that have partnered with SCN to launch community-wide security programs to ensure the safety, security and resilience of the Jewish people. Each program is connected to SCN’s national operations, providing direct access to SCN’s National Jewish Security Operations Command Center and Duty Desk, as well as best-practice security resources and support related to physical security, facility assessments, life-saving training, critical policies and incident response.
The Philadelphia security program was made possible through professional support from the Jewish Federation and SCN, funding from collaborative efforts of the Jewish Federation and other local donors, and national donor support from SCN and LiveSecure. LiveSecure is the partnership between The Jewish Federations of North America and SCN to fund and create a collective security framework.
“SCN strives to ensure the safety, security, and resiliency of the Jewish people by creating a security shield over the Jewish community in North America,” said SCN National Director and CEO Michael Masters. “The heart of this effort is the establishment of a comprehensive security program in each Jewish population center, led by a full-time security professional. We are honored to partner with the Federation and thrilled that in Scott we have a seasoned professional to lead the local effort.”
Before joining SCN, Kerns served as a special agent in the New York and Philadelphia Divisions of the FBI from 1998 to 2022. He worked in a variety of programs, including white-collar crime, technical operations, organized crime, international terrorism, crisis management and recruiting.
Among his many assignments, Kerns helped direct security efforts for major events, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City Marathon, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, United Nations General Assembly, Super Bowl XLVIII and the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia. Most recently, he served as a supervisor in the Joint Terrorism Task Force squad and the Crisis Management program in Philadelphia.
Among his extensive experience, Kerns served in the Marine Corps from 1992 to 1997, attaining the rank of captain.
Kerns has been recognized with the FBI Medal of Excellence, the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Investigator of the Year award and the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service.
“It’s an honor for me to continue working in Philadelphia and to contribute to the safety and security of the Jewish community,” said Kerns, who holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Villanova University and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from the Stevens Institute of Technology. “I look forward to leveraging my professional experience and community relationships to help everyone become more prepared and resilient against all forms of threat.”