Johnson City Police hosting second church security program

Becky Campbell • Jun 23, 2019 at 5:04 PM

Two years ago the Johnson City Police Department offered a free seminar to church leaders determine how to form a security team for their congregations, and in response to recent incidents of church shootings the program is being offered again.

“We feel it’s a good time to do it again,” JCPD Capt. Brian Rice said. “We’re inviting all religious institutions to attend the updated training.”

JCPD will collaborate with the FBI for the House of Worship Security Program on July 16 at Memorial Park Community Center. Rice said the program is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required.

It’s the second time JCPD has offered the training. The program was developed in partnership with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the purpose of educating houses of worship on emergency preparedness, recognizing the need for churches to be open and welcoming to members and visitors while promoting safety and security for those attending services.

“There was so much interest generated in the first training session, so we decided to do it again,” Rice said. “We had about 170 participate,” in the 2017 program. “This is not designed for parishioners to attend. It’s geared toward church leaders and they can go back and implement their own church security program,” he said.

Rice said the presentation isn’t hands-on but will give church leaders information they can use to develop a security plan for their individual congregational needs.

According to data compiled by church security consultant Carl Chinn, there have been 1,706 deadly force incidents at faith-based organizations in the United States between 1999 and December 2017. Chinn defined deadly force incidents as abductions, physical attacks, suspicious deaths, suicides and deadly force intervention and protection.

Of those 1,706 incidents, Chinn determined 479, or 28.08%, resulted in a homicide or death of a victim. Nearly 60 percent of all the encounters involved a gun.

The Johnson City program is scheduled for July 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St., Johnson City, in the dining room. Seating is limited, so register by calling or emailing Planning and Research Manager Heather Brack at 423-434-6105, [email protected], with no more than four representatives per church.

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