Jewish Community Centers Should be Able to Trace Threatening Phone Calls: Schumer

Jewish Community Centers Should be Able to Trace Threatening Phone Calls: Schumer

Photo Courtesy of Sen. Schumer’s Office

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging the FCC to allow Jewish community centers to trace call information so threats can be investigated.

By Forum Staff

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer recently reached out to the Federal Communications Commission, urging the panel to grant a special waiver to all Jewish Community Centers, and other entities that lately have been the targets of bomb threats, that would allow the organizations to access anonymous phone caller’s information.

Sen. Schumer noted that last week, over the course of one day, bomb threats were simultaneously made to JCCs in 11 states across the country, including at groups in Westchester, Long Island, and Staten Island. Schumer said these centers need intelligence to help stop the threats and thwart phony calls that, he said, have a real economic and psychic impact.

“Perpetrators terrorizing Jewish communities across the country—and here in New York—should not be allowed to hide in the shadows,” Schumer declared. “We cannot give these fear-mongering criminals protection when they are instilling hate and panic. That’s why I am urging the FCC to grant a critical waiver, which will allow targeted JCCs to work with local law enforcement to access the critical caller ID information that would finally allow us to identify and locate these perpetrators. All communities and entities targeted by intimidation and fear deserve access to all of the tools needed to ensure these criminals are brought to justice.”

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Schumer pointed to a “swatting” threat – an incident in which a false report is made in an effort to solicit a police response where emergency teams, including Special Weapons and Tactics units, are dispatched to an unsuspecting resident’s home – directed at the Middletown School District in Upstate NY last year. Following the threat, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler worked with Schumer’s office to pass a special waiver allowing the district to access caller information of the individuals placing the threats. Given the recent uptick in swatting incidents, Schumer is urging the FCC to allow targeted JCCs to trace call information, just as the FCC did for the Middletown School District, in order to allow the calls to be properly investigated.

“I believe the current circumstances require that your agency pursues similar extensive investigatory measures,” Schumer wrote in his missive to Pai. “In doing so, I urge you to coordinate your federal resources with local law enforcement across the nation to ensure they have the resources needed to thwart these attacks. In that vein, I respectfully inquire that you provide me and my staff with more information about the steps your agency will take to fulfill this request. Specifically, I ask:

  1. What actions has your agency taken to date in response to these bomb threats?
  2. Will you consider allowing JCCs to trace this call information, as the FCC did for the Middletown school district, in order to allow these calls to be properly investigated?
  3. What resources can your agency provide to local law enforcement to ensure they are equipped to thwart these attacks?”

Schumer added, “Our local JCCs provide so many services to the community at-large—from daycare, to education to sports. And no community should be the focus of threats designed to create a climate of fear. I stand united with the members of the Jewish community in Westchester, on Long Island, in Staten Island and in every community across America, against fear, intolerance and intimidation.”


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