A seemingly constant stream of multiple shootings in the nation’s churches has prompted the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to offer training that will help local houses of worship become better prepared if such an incident were to occur here.
“In view of all the shooting that has been going on in churches, concerts and other gatherings — it weighs heavy on a lot of people’s minds, especially the churches — we have already put together a program for a couple of churches and provided some training,” said Chief Deputy Mike Lambert. “We’ll be glad to come and give the entire congregation training that we hope they never have to use.”
And, while the “active shooter” portion of the training draws the most attention, Lambert said the program goes beyond that.
“It’s not all about putting guns in church,” the chief deputy said. “(Deadly incidents) could happen where you shop, where you work, where your kids go to school, or in church.”
Lambert pointed out that there are several potential threats that could pop up in a church environment, and that the program is designed to address most of those.
“It’s a 55-minute program,” he explained. “We’re willing to meet with the decision-makers of the church and look at what kind of security plan they have in place.
We’ll do a walk-through of the entire facility and see if there are ways we can help.”
Lambert added that he and other ECSO personnel have already presented the program to the men’s ministry of his home church and to another area church.
“It went over real well at both places,” he said.
The veteran lawman pointed out that churches with daycare facilities or nurseries could be especially susceptible to some of the perils for which the program will help prepare.
“Any church wants to make sure its nursery is secure,” said Lambert. “A couple could get divorced, and problems arise when one of them arrives to pick up the kids. We can show the churches how to deal with such a situation, or it could be how to react in case of a heart attack. Like I said, it’s not all about putting guns in church. There are a broad range of things to be considered.”
He said the sheriff’s office would be glad to either evaluate any security plan a church already has in place, or to help devise one if no such plan already exists.
“We’ll look at any plan and we’ll be glad to make recommendations and suggestions,” he promised. “Any church that doesn’t have a plan, we’ll be glad to help them put one together.”
Any church or other organization that might want a survey of its security plan or to come up with a plan where one currently does not exist, may call either 809-2141 or 809-0741, or visit escambiacountysheriffal.org.