Crime & Courts

Does your church have a safety plan? SC sheriff offers training after mass shootings

A memorial for the victims of the shooting at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church includes 26 white chairs, each painted with a cross and and rose, placed in the sanctuary, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community last week, killing more than two dozen.
A memorial for the victims of the shooting at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church includes 26 white chairs, each painted with a cross and and rose, placed in the sanctuary, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community last week, killing more than two dozen. AP

A South Carolina sheriff said he “felt it was time to again” to offer a training that helps churches prepare a “comprehensive church safety plan” in the case of a shooting in the sanctuary.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said Monday his office has had an “overwhelming demand” for another “Safety in the Sanctuary” presentation, which aims to provide church leaders the information needed to begin discussions and preparations for a safety plan, according to an agency news release.

“Church safety is becoming a major concern for church leaders and the congregations they serve,” Foster said. “We have been amazed at the overwhelming response to this program.”

After the training was featured in a law enforcement publication in 2015, law enforcement officials from across the country called to learn more about the program and how they could make it relevant to their community, the release stated.

Foster told the Index Journal earlier this month that churches and schools are frequent targets because they are designed to be open for guests. He told the paper that the program can be customized.

“We leave it up to the individual church to decide what they want to implement, and the reason we do that is churches vary in the guidance they are given,” the Index Journal reported.

Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan

If you go:

What: “Safety in the Sanctuary” training

When: Jan. 29, 2018, 6 p.m.

Where: Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, 520 Wilson Road, Newberry

To reserve your seat: Call 803-321-2211 or e-mail cops@ncso.sc.gov

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