NewsTreasure CoastRegion Indian River County

Actions

Law enforcement presence increased in Indian River County as Hamas calls for protest

Vero Beach Police Department, Indian River County Sheriff's Office increase security at places of worship, schools and businesses
Indian River County Sheriff's Office, generic, Oct. 13, 2023
Posted at 6:27 PM, Oct 13, 2023

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Law enforcement in Indian River County stepped up security amid Hamas' call for protests Friday, even though Vero Beach police said they do not believe there is an immediate threat to the community.

"We had multiple police officers at all three of our schools here within the city. We had multiple foot patrols," Vero Beach police spokeswoman Kelsea Marty said. "We do take things seriously, so we are taking every precaution."

Sheriff Eric Flowers at the Indian River County Sheriff's Office said his deputies were providing additional security to local synagogues, and said the agency was continuing to work with local, state and federal partners to develop intelligence and keep the community safe.

Vero Beach Police Department spokeswoman Kelsea Marty outlines what officers are doing to protect the public.
Vero Beach Police Department spokeswoman Kelsea Marty outlines what officers are doing to protect the public.

"Our agency is aware of the global threats posed by Hamas and other radical actors as a result of the ongoing conflict in Israel. We have prepared additional resources for the stated Jihad threat period as well as for the foreseeable future, knowing that there are people who plan to harm these Great United States of America," Flowers said in a statement posted to the agency's Facebook page Thursday.

WPTV also noticed multiple patrols surrounding schools, places of worship and businesses throughout the area.

One of those was at Temple Beth Shalom in Vero Beach where a sheriff's office helicopter was circling for protection Friday.

Palm Beach County

Experts weigh in on personal security during a time of heightened security

Tory Dunnan
5:19 PM, Oct 13, 2023

"It's a total paradox," Rabbi Michael Birnholz said.

Birnholz spoke to WPTV ahead of the synagogue's Shabbat service Friday night and said the news overseas already weighed heavy on his heart.

Now that the conflict is reflected at home, he said that weight feels even heavier.

Rabbi Michael Birnholz discusses how he is handling the war in Israel.
Rabbi Michael Birnholz discusses how he is handling the war in Israel.

"That's the challenge, how do you feel the pain? How do you feel the weight? How do you understand the negative emotions you're feeling and then also find ways to bring light to the world," Birnholz said.

Birnholz said the synagogue is stepping up security for Friday's Shabbat service. He said even though he wished it wasn't necessary, he's using this opportunity to give a message of light amid a day that, for him, felt all too dark.

"If we just go and hide and say, 'I want to wait for it to go away,' then the brokenness of the world doesn't get fixed," Birnholz said. "So, we'll take one step at a time."

In an effort to continue to spread light in this community, Temple Beth Shalom will light a candle at Friday's Shabbat service as part of what Birnholz said is a global push for unity, solidarity and peace.