MPD to offer church security training

In recent years church safety has been a hot topic in the media and in churches around the country. The recent church shooting in Texas, where a church security guard stopped an active shooter in his tracks, saving the lives of many, brought the subject back to the forefront of many church goers minds, including Monticello’s own Police Chief Jason Akers. As a result, the Monticello Police Department is now offering church security training to any church that will accept it. 

“This is something we have been discussing for awhile now and we have never been able to get to it,” said Akers. “About two or three weeks ago the subject came up again and I said you know we really need to get that out and then this church shooting in Texas happened.”

The training, which the department is offering for free, is based on active shooter response and executive and witness protection detail.

“The Monticello Police Department is not here to police people, we belong to the people and if we have certain areas of knowledge that will benefit them, we want to share it with them,” said Akers. “I am a very staunch supporter of the second amendment and the right to carry, protect yourself, protect your home, your loved ones and anyone else that can’t protect themselves. We don’t have a big staff so we can’t be everywhere in 30 seconds. We can make it within two minutes but when you consider a lot of shootings are over within under five, that’s from start to finish. Five minutes is long. The person there is going to be the one that makes the difference and by the time law enforcement gets there, sometimes it is too late.”

For this reason the training will include things such as site assessment, selecting security team members, equipment selection, methods of room and building clearing, evacuation procedures and other structural security techniques. Live fire training will also be available and is encouraged. 

“We are going to be helping people assess vulnerabilities in a church or any institution that is large with different things going on at multiple times and prioritize which one,” said Akers about the site assessment part of the training. “If you only have four people working security: How do you prioritize? Is there a place you can overlap potential problem areas and put someone here where they can watch multiple places as opposed to having someone for this section, someone for that section, someone in another section?”

One of the first and most important parts of the training will include security member selection. 

“We don’t want anyone to become part of a security team and then decide that is not what they want to do,” said Akers about selecting a security team. “So, let’s talk about team selection. Are they qualified if they have to use a weapon or restrain someone? Not everything is firearm related. You need to know how to approach, address, (report security issues).”

Equipment selection is another topic Aker’s feels is important to discuss due to all the available and specialized equipment on the market. According to Akers, all that equipment can be cumbersome, overcomplicate the situation and are unnecessary.

Room clearing and safe evacuation procedures are another part of the training that will prepare the security team for any situation where the building needs to be safely evacuated and/or cleared to ensure everyone is safe. 

“We don’t want to just address the threats of a shooting but there are some organizational things from executive protection that are applicable to large crowds,” said Akers.

The public perception of their comfort and safety are important factors to consider when building and maintain a church security team also and Akers understands that.

“Some people are against firearms in church,” said Akers, “I understand that. The churches are not under any kind of guidelines as to what they have to do. We may be able to show them some things they may want to do taken from the lessons learned from executive protection details and saying, ‘Okay this guy doesn’t want to come into his factory with AR-15’s.’ (Churchgoers) may not want to come to church in that kind of environment. You know it is there but you don’t have to look at it. It doesn’t take your mind off what the preacher is talking about because that guy has his gun.” 

Keeping people in Monticello churches safe is at the top of Akers mind and he wants to offer what he can to help people feel safe in their churches. 

“(The Monticello Police Department) wants to be able to help them and we want people to know that we care about their safety and their sense of security,” said Akers. “We don’t want anyone staying home from church because they might be worried about what will happen in church. We want as many people in church as we can get.

“I know me personally, I don’t have a lot to offer, my biblical knowledge is nowhere near where I wish it was,” explained Akers. “However, the one thing I do have knowledge in is how to keep people alive.  We just want to share that.”

To enroll your church security team in training, contact the Monticello Police Department at 870-367-3411. The department will then work with your church to set up times and locations for the training. 

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