It's probably not going to happen at your church — but it's important to have a plan. After the most recent mass shooting at a church in Texas in which a gunman killed over two dozen people, churches are beginning to consider security as a topic in worship.
"First, have a plan, have that conversation as a church," Floyd County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tom Caldwell said. "The world we're living in now you have to think about it."
He encourages churches to have a security committee and look at issues such as, when the last time locks to the doors of the church were changed.
"Is your parking lot well lit up at night?" Caldwell said the committee should ask.
"Do you want to allow certain people to have weapons in church? That always generates the most conversation."
The sheriff's office has offered several churches assistance since 2014 and two local churches contacted the sheriff's office for help this week, Caldwell said. Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and his chief deputy attended training at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth on church security even before the massacre of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June of 2015. Emergency Management Director Tim Herrington told the Floyd County Public Safety Committee that Georgia Emergency Management Agency personnel would be in Rome on Nov. 16. This session with the Local Emergency Planning Committee is designed to offer insight into the Texas church massacre and ways to prevent the repeat of such an incident locally.
Once the local committee gets additional information, Herrington said, his office will be in a better position to respond to requests from local churches for information about how they can beef up their security and develop a plan of response should an incident occur.