Highway patrolman offers tips to keep churches safe

Thursday, March 8, 2018

As deranged individuals look for easy targets for mass shootings, it's quite possible that as schools continue to tighten their security measures, different places may emerge as favorites for these heinous crimes.

To that end, a special security session was recently held at First Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau for pastors and church officials to learn how to better secure their church buildings.

Clark D. Parrott, a sergeant with the Missouri State Highway Patrol presented a church security seminar.

He offered several tips for identifying something that "just doesn't look right."

"What I don't want you to do is jump up with the Spirit, and tackle them. Just make eye contact," Parrott said.

But he didn't just address active shooter situations.

Parrott stressed the importance of churches vetting their bus drivers, what to do in case of a fire, how to handle church safety concerns during nighttime hours, CPR certification, the installation of security cameras, numbering church entrances and exits and being made aware of any domestic situations that could escalate within the church.

"You'd be surprised what would spark a situation," Parrott said. "It's my job to point out stuff you don't think about. ... If someone is up to no good, you think they're going to go somewhere they'd be easily recognized? Don't be afraid to fist bump, and make eye contact."

Churches are smart to address the sad reality that mass shootings are possible, and Parrott advised that a church's security team be thoroughly vetted and pass a background check.

The seminar was a good idea, if not a sad reminder of the threats of gun violence in today's society. We tip our caps to Parrott and the church leaders for having the training and discussion.

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