MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County is stepping up to help faith-based organizations and nonprofits who are at risk of hate crimes by providing $700,000 in grant funds to improve their security. 

Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in the state that now provides funds for faith-based and nonprofit organizations to improve their security needs to protect against hate crimes.

“It’s important that people feel that going to a house of worship or going to a nonprofit doesn’t mean you’re putting your life at risk,” said County Executive Marc Elrich.

Faith leaders say especially coming on the heels of the terrifying hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas, recent vandalism at a mosque here in the community, and acts of violence against Asian-Americans across the country, providing safety and security is their top priority.

“It confronts the obvious trend in America today to prevent self-radicalized hateful individuals who feel compelled to act violently against diverse groups in our society, which is a direct attack on our national values,” said Ron Halber, Executive Director of JCRC of Greater Washington.

The county also offers classes, training, and police security assessments for organizations to know how to respond to threats.

“Our congregation needs the support, the support systems that we can provide a wonderful and safe environment for our children,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

County Executive Marc Elrich says that this program will also be included in their next budget and will be continued for years to come.