At the Frontline: Former Secret Service Agent Richard Raisler

Raisler, security director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, discusses security in the wake of the Seattle Jewish Federation shootings


On Friday, July 28, 2006, a lone gunman forced his way into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Seattle, a charity arm of the local Jewish community. By the time the incident ended and the gunman was arrested, one woman was dead and many others were injured. The incident raised questions about office security and how employees can be protected.

The incident, allegedly conducted by a Muslim American acting in a lone capacity, explains the predicament of the Jewish community around the world. But according to Richard "Dick" Raisler, who heads up security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, there are lessons to be learned that can shape your own security program.

Raisler, an ASIS member, brings a 27-year background with the United States Secret Service to his position as the director of community-wide security for the JFGA. In this "At the Frontline" interview, Raisler shares with the SecurityInfoWatch.com community his insights on the Seattle event and how it's shaping security at a similar federation in Atlanta. Even more of Raisler's interview, including discussions on securing schools and houses of worship, will appear in the October issue of Security Technology & Design as the "Back Page" interview.

SecurityInfoWatch.com: For those of us not familiar with what these Jewish Federations are, do you mind giving us a quick overview?

Raisler: The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta (JFGA) operates under the United Jewish Community's umbrella which oversees over 150 federations in North America. Our job is to raise money and give it away. A certain percentage stays in the community and it includes schools, service organizations, family and career services, senior citizens' homes, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and some Jewish community centers.

The synagogues are not affiliated agencies, but in a reach-out program we have going here we're trying to integrate the Jewish community, and of course, a very good way to get in touch with people in the community is through their synagogues.

What are your day-to-day duties in security for the JFGA?

My position is director of community wide security for the federation, and to act as a resource or as a consultant to members of the community regarding their security concerns.

We do assessments of needs, based on what the vulnerabilities are, and then make recommendations as to policies, procedures, equipment and technology that they can use to mitigate their vulnerabilities

Another large part of that job is to serve as a conduit to provide them an opportunity to liaison with their public safety entities in their jurisdictions...to arrange meeting between their lay leaders and the law enforcement community to let them talk about procedures, let them become actually familiar with the facility and property in a particular jurisdiction and to let the administrators or the management group, in case their involved in an emergency or an incident, so they have previous contact with the law enforcement supervisors so the first time they meet isn't under the heat of fire.

A lot of what I did in the Secret Service, major event planning, security assessments, threat investigations, background investigations -- all of those things that I did and learned as a Secret Service agent I've been able to put to good use here in this position with the Federation.

How does the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta use information on what's happening in Seattle and around the world to shape its own security policy?

One of the unique things about this community, and one of the things that I enjoy about being a security professional there is that they are security conscious all the time. But obviously when you have the events in the Middle East and a the spike of interest following an event like we had in Seattle, security goes to the forefront of everybody's thinking, and they use it as a time to re-evaluate their own situation and look at individual security at all the different locations of the agencies and synagogues we have here in Atlanta.

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