Security expert says churches need a safety plan in the wake of mass shootings
There's growing concern about church security after Sunday’s massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring, Texas.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's growing concern about church security after Sunday’s massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring, Texas.
A Louisville man who wrote the book on church security, “How to Keep Your Church Safe,” said there are a number of steps churches large and small can take to save lives.
“Put something in place now. Don't wait,” said Ron Aguiar, adding that should be every church's first response to the mass shooting. “The events of the shootings that have occurred recently have upped the ante, so to speak ... They're beginning to realize they must put things in place.”
Aguiar spent 19 years as head of security at Louisville’s Southeast Christian Church and wrote his book after years of helping other churches with safety. He said it all begins with planning.
“First thing you have to do, if you haven't done it already, is form a security or safety team," he said. "Even if you're small church, choose two or three people. Just get it done."
Aguiar said the next step is to contact law enforcement.
“Have them visit your church, get familiar with your church, and do some free training,” he said.
Aguiar said even small churches with few resources can take simple steps to increase security, including a surprising one: lock the door.
“Once the church service starts, lock the door," Aguiar said. "You got 50 or 100 people in the building. Keep somebody inside on the front doors so he can open the door for late arrivals, and watch for people that may be wanting to come in the building and do harm."
He recommends that larger churches with bigger budgets should invest in hiring off-duty police officers.
“They know how to respond to active shooters or violence," he said. "Plus, they have direct communication with their department while they're there."
Aguiar said his phone has been ringing steadily since the shooting as churches realize they can no longer consider themselves to be safe havens from violence.
“I think that's really important to understand that's the way society is," he said. "And so we have to protect ourselves and our people."
Aguiar said there are a number of free resources online that can help churches with security planning, including a Houston Police Dept. video called Run, Hide, Fight. And to visit his website, click here.
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