SAFETY SUMMIT: Law enforcement to host training for church security teams Feb. 29

Published 9:21 pm Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Sheriff Russell Thomas has reviewed the footage of an armed shooter entering a Texas church and fatally shooting two members of the congregation before being fatally shot by a member of a church security team.

The footage offers as many questions as it does answers, Thomas said.

“People who are not security team members also appear to pull their guns in the video,” Thomas said. “How do you address that with active shooter? You have law enforcement responding, members exiting the church. Officers are going in not knowing who’s the good guy who’s the bad guy. What type of plan should you have?”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Thomas and the chiefs of Troy, Brundidge and Troy University police departments will be helping to answer those questions on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the 2020 Church Safety Summit.

“We’re bringing in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to train churches in these active shooter situations,” Thomas said.

The Summit is being held at First Baptist Church of Troy. Jeffrey Spann said the church has had a security team in place for years and that it is a necessity in the this age.

“I know that we’re all probably reactive to the news,” Spann said. “When there are events like the recent one in Texas where there is a shooter in the church, we are all reactive to that. This day and time, any time that people are gathered somewhere, there has to be a plan for how to keep them safe. We want people who come to church no matter what day of the week to be safe and to know what to do in the events of trouble occurring.”

The summit will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at the church

Check-in will be from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and the summit will start off with a  welcome and opening prayer before transitioning into the active shooter training from 8:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

“They will be training on ALICE active shooter response tactics,” Thomas said. ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. The training will include history and statistics on church shootings.

“We’ll break up into six different groups with six different instructors,” Thomas said. “Each group will go through all six active shooter scenarios.”

The second session will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will focus on developing a safety team and Emergency Operating Procedure plan, including assessing the needs of each individual church, what type of events to plan for, training, communication, liability and insurance issues and partnership with law enforcement.

“When you have armed people in your church, you have liability issues,” Thomas said. “We’ll have insurance vendors there on how best to address that. The best way to provide a safe environment for church family is to come up with a plan.”

Thomas thanked Troy Police Chief Randall Barr, Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport, Troy University Police Chief John McCall, Troy Mayor Jason Rees and Brundidge Mayor Is-abell Boyd for their support of the church safety summit. He also thanked First Baptist Church for agreeing to host the summit at the facility.

To register, call with the name of your church and the number of people attending to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office at 334-566-4347 or by email at pcso@pikecountyalsheriff.com or the Troy Police Department Melissa Ingram at 334-670-2227 or by email to Melissa.ingram@troyal.gov.

Thomas said this is the first of several events to come, including personal trainings with individual churches.