LEO, churches team up for safety prep classes

Published 12:31 am Thursday, December 14, 2017

After the mass shooting in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, claimed the lives of 26 people, local church and law enforcement officials decided they needed to take precautions.

Over the span of four weeks, the Opp Police Department and the First Baptist Church of Opp have hosted two meetings, held in Opp’s FBC.

“We initially started this as a program for churches in the Opp area, but we realized the bigger need for it,” Randy Breedlove, the pastor of the Opp’s FBC, said.

“We opened it up to the whole county, and our goal is to have each church within the area prepared for any kind of risk.”

The goal is to continually provide comfort for those who attend church, Breedlove said.

The meetings are open to churches of all denominations.

“We want to be prepared for threats against our people,” he said.

The “Church Security Summit” started when Opp Chief Mike McDonald went to Breedlove.

“It was the final straw for me. That’s enough of church shootings, and active shootings in general,” McDonald said of the Texas massacre. “My main goal is to have people prepared.

“We hold these summits in hopes it gives them ideas on how to form plans in the event of an attack or shooting.”

In the summits, leaders review security measures, precautionary tactics and what to do when or if something happens.

The final meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Mon., Dec. 18, when Alabama State Troopers Kevin Cook and Col. Charles Ward will present a program.

The Covington County Sherriff’s Office is offering a similar program.

“We’re offering walkthroughs to churches in the area who want them,” Sherriff Dennis Meeks said.

“We point out open areas, how secure churches are, open foyers that may need someone to keep watch on them, and we recommend camera systems depending on the church,” he said.

“We want to point out their weaknesses so they know what to watch for.”

Some church leaders have even expressed a desire for members to carry firearms, Meeks said.

For that, the CCSO plans to offer firearm classes to those who wish to carry.

The CCSO has done three walkthroughs so far, and has others scheduled up until 2018.

“It’s bad that we’re in times where we need these classes, but we have to adapt with the times and do what we have to do to keep people safe,” Meeks said.

To contact the CCSO about the church walkthroughs, call 334-428-2641.

To learn more about the Church Security Summit call 334-493-4511.