CLINTON — A seminar on church security measures is planned next month in Clinton in response to a church shooting in Texas that left 26 people dead.
“It’s really a sad thing that we have to address this in such a large scale, but it is a reality in today’s world, unfortunately,” said DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner, an organizer of the Jan. 9 seminar at First Christian Church in Clinton.
Also participating are Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers and Ron Coventry, a security consultant and founder of the Shooter School Weapons Training Site in Atwood.
The free event, which begins at 6 p.m., is designed for church leaders, employees and volunteers, Coventry said. Shofner, Lowers and Coventry began discussing the idea after the Nov. 5 shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
“It’s a reality that churches are being targeted and after the Texas incident, it was time to start pushing the security portion for the churches in our area,” Coventry said.
The seminar will focus on preventing violence in churches; preparing a proactive, trained response to threats; and an explanation of the best practices to use in the case of an active shooter.
“We are going to talk a little bit about the history of violence in churches and what motivates people to act on violence in a place of worship,” Coventry said. “We will discuss assessing threats, how to better secure the facilities and situational awareness, such as how to identify someone who is about to do violence, and how to de-escalate the situation before anything happens, if possible.”
Shofner hopes for a big turnout.
“Since making the announcement, we have received a lot of positive feedback and our church leaders want to know what to do, just in case,” he said.
Coventry said there are a variety of reasons why churches are picked for violent acts.
“A lot of them do some form of drug and alcohol counseling and domestic violence counseling and at times, that could be the fuel to add to an already existing fire,” he said. “Each situation is different. But it’s better to do something, rather than nothing. It’s better to have the knowledge and never have to use it, rather than not have the knowledge when you need it.”
Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP on the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.