Highland Park, News

Highland Park agencies bolster security citing rise in antisemitic activity

The City of Highland Park has increased police patrols near local synagogues, schools and more in the wake of the violent attacks in Israel that began on Oct. 7.

In a statement released Thursday, the City said the violence has led to “an increase in inflammatory, antisemitic rhetoric that is concerning,” and officials are communicating with federal and regional law enforcement to identify and investigate potential threats to the community.

Highland Park consists of a longstanding and significant Jewish population. Demographic organizations have reported that between one-third and one-half of the city’s residents are Jewish.

The City’s statement calls the additional police activity a precautionary measure, and the City has not reported any threats made in the community.

“The City will continue to remain actively engaged and will keep the community informed,” the statement says.

The City also urged community members to report suspicious activity or threats by calling 911. Some activity to look out for includes: expressed or implied threat to harm people or damage a building; an unusual interest in facilities, buildings, or infrastructure; taking pictures or videos of people or infrastructure in a covert manner; challenging or testing a facility’s security or IT systems; unauthorized attempts to enter a restricted area; impersonating authorized personnel; and acquiring or storing unusual materials or weapons.

To view more information about such activity, visit the “See Something Say Something” webpage from the Department of Homeland Security.

Additionally, local school districts Township High School 113 and North Shore 112 both reached out to its communities with security updates ahead of Friday, Oct. 13.

According to a statement from Township D113’s Director of Security Amy Oliva and Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law, its two schools — Highland Park and Deerfield high schools — on Friday will limit visitors and visitor access; will put in place additional security patrols outside the building and near entryways; and will welcome additional police units during the school day and for after-school events.

The district says other added security measures will not be revealed.

“The safety of our students and staff is our first priority,” the statement reads. “We will remain vigilant and steadfast in our security protocols, and we will continue to work with local law enforcement to assess the risk of any threat we receive.” 

In a statement, North Shore D112 Superintendent Dr. Mike Lubelfeld did not mention any additional security measures, but explained the security in place at the district’s nine schools.

He wrote that the schools are safe and will be operating “as normal” on Friday.

“There have been no credible or specific threats made against Illinois, our community or the district,” Lubelfeld wrote. “That said, we are keenly aware of what is going on and I am sensitive to the anxiety some people may be feeling.”

The statements from Township D113 and North Shore 112 reference a circulating call for violence to occur on Friday, Oct. 13. That message, which does not mention the United States, came from a former leader of Hamas, the organization that carried out the surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Thousands of people, including at least 27 Americans, reportedly have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the attacks and counterattacks in Israel over the past week.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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