Church leaders learn to prepare for active shooter scenario

Church leaders learn to prepare for active shooter scenario

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Churches are supposed to be safe havens but sadly, several places of worship in the United States have been the scene of active shooter situations.

That's why federal officials say church leaders need to know how to handle the terrifying threat.

For Terry Collins, it was important for him to make the trip from Birmingham to Huntsville to attend special training with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to put together an active shooter plan for a place of worship.

"In the killing that occurred in South Carolina where the nine people were killed- that pastor happened to be the pastor of my brother who had just been assigned to the church where he was killed. It really shook me that my brother could have been there visiting him because they had become very good friends," he explained.

Keeping that kind of violence from happening has become a personal goal for him. That’s why he took part in training held at Dynetics on Tuesday, focused on prevention and preparation.

It was sponsored by InfraGard, which is a partnership between the FBI and private sector.

Everyone learned how to put together an active shooter plan for their house of worship and also covered hate crimes as they relate to churches.

"We'll talk about what a hate crime is, what it looks like, and where to report that. We'll also talk about the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. We'll also talk about what happens when you report something to the FBI, what's the process and what happens at that point. We'll walk everyone through that," explained Paul Daymond, FBI spokesman.

Pastors, ministers and rabbis from all over took part in the training, learning key steps to take to protect their congregations.

"Make a plan. If you don't have a plan, put one in place. This gives you those tools and resources to be able to do that. Hopefully, you'll never need that but at least you'll know what to do when something happens," Daymond said.

It's not the kind of thing any church wants to face, but having a plan in place can save lives.

“Fortify the church, to try to take protective measures and try to do everything we can to make certain that our church doesn’t be a place for that type of thing to occur. I just saw that a mission for me to get involved,” Collins stated.

If you weren’t able to attend the training, go to dhs.gov or fbi.gov and search for active shooter. There are a number of resources available, including videos.

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