ELIZABETHTOWN — The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has convened a group of sheriffs and sheriffs’ personnel from across the state to develop training materials that will help places of worship create security plans to keep citizens safe.
“This is something we need to provide to our citizens,” said Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker. “I wish this was not necessary but in light of the world and national situation we cannot afford to just hope it will not happen here.”
The group was established by Sheriff Hubert A. Peterkin of Hoke County, president of the NCSA, at the suggestion of Sheriff John W. Ingram V of Brunswick County as a result of recent attacks at community gatherings and in places of worship in the U.S. and abroad.
The group’s goal was to prepare materials to be used by sheriffs and their personnel to train places of worship to develop security plans designed to minimize harm done in the event of an active shooter.
“When you’re a sheriff, you have to be prepared for many different types of events in order to effectively protect the citizens that you serve. In light of last summer’s tragic attack in a Charleston, S.C., church, North Carolina sheriffs from the mountains to the coast have received requests to provide training at churches and other places of worship regarding appropriate security measures,” said Peterkin.
The NCSA Church Security Group worked this fall to develop materials that all sheriffs’ offices in North Carolina can use to provide training, upon request, to places of worship in their county. The training is designed to teach church personnel and members how to attempt to prevent critical incidents and how to react if a critical incident occurs during worship services. “I have instructed my training officers to make themselves available to any church that wants this training or wants to discuss it,” said McVicker.
Topics discussed in the training materials include:
— Conducting a Security Risk Assessment
— Developing a Place of Worship Security Plan
— What to do during the Critical Incident
— What to do immediately after the Critical Incident
— The need to provide Crisis Intervention Stress Management afterward
“The sheriffs of North Carolina are dedicated to assisting the churches and houses of worship in their counties with security and safety training to improve public safety across our state. A place of worship should be a place of peace and a safe haven,” said Peterkin.
This week, the training materials were distributed to all 100 North Carolina sheriffs for their use locally in their counties. Leaders of churches and places of worship who wish to learn more about the training that is available in our county should contact the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at 910-862-6960 and ask for Sgt. Barry Pait or Sgt. Gary Turlington.
“This is an initiative I have supported from its inception,” said McVicker. “Even before the Sheriff’s Association began developing this training I had met with my training staff and we were working on a safety program for our churches. Now we can take this training and get it out there sooner. I urge all churches to consider allowing us to help with security in their places of worship.”