Church safety and security in the spotlight

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) "We have grown up in a time where we were not threatened and we are, if we'll admit it, naive, about what threats are there," said St. Paul's United Methodist Church member, Jack Richardson.

The reality of those threats hit too close to home at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, after a brutal attack on one of their own.  It's one of many recent violent acts in churches nationwide--prompting many to take a much closer look at security measures in place.

"This meeting will give them ideas and starting places so that they can start their security plans that they feel they need to put in place," said Richardson.

The meeting is being hosted by the City of Jonesboro.  200 letters were sent to Jonesboro churches notifying them of a public meeting being held to discuss church safety and security.

"We're certainly not telling them how to do things.   We're simply saying these are the things you need to be looking at, the signs you need to be looking at, and the preparation you need to do before something like that happens," said Jonesboro Mayor, Harold Perrin.

"....Because there's such a wide variety of churches and size and denomination, philosophy and what have you...there's no one size fits all," said Jonesboro Police Chief, Mike Yates.

Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates will deliver a presentation that he hopes will raise awareness regarding safety issues and emergency situations.

"We want to touch on all these things.   Get our churches to thinking about what their risk factors are, and kind of do a self assessment and tailor a program for themselves to fit their needs," said Yates.

"We look at the church as a place of safety," said Jack Richardson.

For Jack Richardson, he says just because  safety is sometimes violated, he says it's  important not to let it ruin the mission of the church.

"You've got to continue to be a church, and do the things a church does, but at the same time you have to be cautious about it," said Richardson.

The meeting is set for June 11th at 7:00 P.M. at the city council chambers at the Huntington Building in Jonesboro.

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