Facility Management

To Keep Churches Safe, Federal Authorities get Involved

The Rev. Richard Reid regularly checks the security camera system at North Baptist Church in Brockton, Mass. The system emails him when there is activity or every 30 minutes. This system is in addition to a comprehensive ADT alarm system.

Two months after the deadliest church shooting in American history, federal authorities are spearheading new efforts to help equip local faith leaders to prepare for the worst.


Jeffrey MacDonald  ·  January 31, 2018

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Flags mark evidence on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 6, 2017, a day after over 20 people died in a mass shooting. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP; caption amended by RNS)

Two months after the deadliest church shooting in American history, federal authorities are spearheading new efforts to help equip local faith leaders to prepare for the worst.

U.S. attorneys’ offices in Colorado, North Carolina and Massachusetts have been convening security workshops for houses of worship in the wake of the Nov. 5 shooting that left more than two dozen worshippers dead in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The Colorado initiative builds on past efforts to reach faith leaders, while four regional events across Massachusetts this winter mark a new initiative in that state.

Though not a national campaign, the outreach reflects a Trump administration priority to get government more involved in anti-terrorism training for civil society, observers say. The faith-based sector is a priority because data show religious institutions are the most common terrorism targets in the U.S.

Response has been strong. More than 300 attendees turned out for a Jan. 11 event in Taunton, Mass., where representatives from federal, state and local agencies covered active shooter threats among other scenarios.

Pastor Richard Reid regularly checks the security camera system at North Baptist Church in Brockton, Mass. The system emails him when there is activity or every 30 minutes. This system is in addition to a comprehensive ADT alarm system.

“I’m not taking a chance on anybody in our congregation getting injured or killed,” said workshop attendee Richard Reid, pastor of North Baptist Church in nearby Brockton, Mass.

“My job as the shepherd of the church is to protect the flock. And I will do so with whatever means I need.”

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ARTICLE TOPICS

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