Following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, some law enforcement agencies are offering to help churches improve their security.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office has connected with fifteen churches since the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs on Sunday. The sheriff’s office will conduct on-site security overviews with the churches.
“For so long, we’ve treated the church as that sacred place that you’re safe to come to,” says Byron Stevenson, senior pastor of The Fort Bend Church in Sugar Land. “Times have changed.”
Pastor Stevenson says he seized the opportunity to improve his church’s security, after receiving an email from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.
“The church security team will work with the sheriff’s office to analyze the job that we’re doing here security-wise and how we can do a better job, making sure that people are secure when they visit The Fort Bend Church,” adds Pastor Stevenson. He learned of the 26 people killed at a Sutherland Springs church after finishing his own services on Sunday.
“I was heartbroken by the news,” says Pastor Stevenson.
The Fort Bend Church has an average weekly attendance of 2,500, making it large enough to afford an armed security team, but sheriff’s officials are advising smaller churches too.
“Small churches can’t afford an off-duty police officer to be security in the parking lot or inside a facility,” says Sgt. Casey Schmidt with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s a money issue. Sometimes, take advantage of what you have in a small town. Look what stopped the shooting in Texas here. It was an armed citizen.”
Sheriff's officials say average citizens can help by being aware of their surroundings.
“We pretend it doesn’t happen, or if it’s in Las Vegas, it’s not effecting us, but this is right in our own backyard,” adds Sgt. Schmidt. “So it’s here. It’s gonna stay. It’s gonna be here. It’s gonna happen again. It’s what do we do as citizens in our communities to prevent something like this.”
Schmidt says he recommends that everyone watch and learn from the RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. video.
FBCSO officials say they’re continuing to offer to do security overviews on site with any churches that would like to improve security following Sunday’s mass shooting. Any churches in the area seeking to schedule a security/safety evaluation can contact FBCSO by phone at 281-238-1536.