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Press Release

Protecting Utah

DPS Holds 3rd Faith and Culture Safety and Security Symposium

Thursday June 1, 2023

On Tuesday, May 30th, the Utah Department of Public Safety held the 3rd Faith and Culture Safety and Security Symposium. The symposium was organized by the Statewide Information and Analysis Center, in collaboration with the Utah US Attorney’s Office and the West Valley City Police Department. It aims to promote a comprehensive community-based approach to combat targeted violence.

Commissioner Anderson discussed the importance of the symposium saying, “This symposium presents an opportunity for us to break down barriers and collaborate together. We want to work hand in hand, answer questions, and provide fresh ideas about what the Utah Department of Public Safety and local leaders can offer. It’s about enhancing the opportunities for our Threat Management Unit to help communities and provide them with reliable resources. We want to create relationships and collectively address any adverse situations that may arise.”

Commissioner Anderson stands at the podium speaking.

The event convened prominent leaders from Utah’s faith-based communities, security professionals, law enforcement agencies, school and university administrators, mental health professionals, and various other stakeholders committed to enhancing their understanding of threat assessment and management strategies. The symposium brought together various agencies, including state and federal partners such as the FBI, DHS, and the US Attorney’s Office, as well as local agencies and chiefs.

First Assistant United States Attorney Felice Viti speaks at the podium
First Assistant United States Attorney Felice Viti speaks at the podium

The symposium featured engaging discussions, informative presentations, and networking opportunities focused on bolstering safety and security within the community. Keynote speaker Michael Masters, from the Secure Community Network (SCN), delivered an address titled “Securing our Facilities, Securing Our Faith: Ensuring Safety and Security for the Faith-Based Community in Today’s World,” in which he provided valuable insights and practical guidance for safeguarding faith-based institutions in the face of contemporary challenges.

Michael Masters from Secure Community Network stands at the podium speaking.
Michael Masters from Secure Community Network stands at the podium speaking.

As he discussed the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage crisis, Masters said, “We don’t rely on miracles. We hope for them and we pray for them but we don’t rely on them. Those hostages didn’t rely on a miracle. They acted. We as a community, as faith based members, as law enforcement and public safety must be prepared to act. We must be prepared to act because we’re not going to choose the time and place of the incident. And we don’t have time to lose to get prepared.”

The symposium concluded with an interfaith roundtable featuring DPS Chief Tyler Kotter; Salman Masud, who is the principal of Khadeeja Weekend Islamic School and a trustee of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake; Pastor Corey Hodges, the Lead Pastor at The Point Church; Father George Nikas, the Cathedral Dean of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church; Brandon Taylor, the Corporate Security Manager for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; and Jessica Serdar, the social worker on the Utah DPS Community Engagement Team.

Panelists sit at the front of the room for an interfaith roundtable

This symposium continues to be a pivotal event in enhancing safety and security measures within our communities. The Utah Department of Public Safety is proud to contribute to this important work and conversation as we work towards a safer and more resilient Utah.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Hillary Koellner
Director of Public Affairs
Department of Public Safety
hmkoellner@utah.gov

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