A source told the New York Post that over the past two years, the City Council provided $655,000 in funding for law enforcement sensitivity training at the Simon Wiesenthal’s Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan at the request of Jona Rechnitz.
A spokesperson at the museum said that Perspectives on Profiling has trained more than 13,500 members of law enforcement over the years and testimonials on museum’s website include accolades from members of law enforcement agencies from all over the country including California, Texas and Indiana. The program, established in 2004, was honored with the Crystal Award of Excellence for Best Law Enforcement Training Program by the 2004 Communicator Awards and a World Medal for Best Training Program at the 2005 New York Festival.
Rechnitz has been a benefactor and a volunteer at the museum since 2012 and was instrumental both in raising awareness and funds, according to the museum spokesperson.
“Jona helped introduce us to people at corrections and the police department,” said the source. “He helped bring people to event and helped raise money.”
Among those who took the sensitivity training course were former police chief Philip Banks and corrections union president Norman Seabrook, both of whom also enjoyed trips that were either completely or partially funded by the Upper West Side businessman.
Rechnitz allegedly turned to museum bigwigs for assistance in sparking City Council interest in the program, including former director Rabbi Steven Burg and Michael Cohen, a lobbyist for the museum with political connections.
“Cohen arranged for tours of the Wiesenthal Center for different lawmakers and arranged for funding as well,” said the source. “He introduced Rechnitz to other elected officials.”
According to a New York Times report, Rabbi Burg praised Rechnitz as an asset to the museum.
“Anytime I needed something he would drop whatever he was doing and help out,” said Rabbi Burg.
Reaching out to his NYPD contacts, Rechnitz began bringing members of the New York law enforcement community to the museum starting in 2014.
“He was instrumental,” noted Rabbi Burg. “We did a day of training for corrections officers and started a whole program working with the Department of Correction.”