• 57°

Concord Police Department’s security training draws crowd

CONCORD — Just three weeks after the Texas church shooting that killed 26 and injured 20 others, Concord police are providing local churchgoers with information about how to protect themselves.

On Tuesday, the Concord Police Department held a meeting on security for places of worship.

Officer Ron Ferrell led the session.

More than 150 people attended the meeting held at Concord Police Headquarters.

Police Chief Gary Gasek said the topic was relevant given recent and violent trends.

“We live in dangerous times,” Gasek said. “… Churches, mosques, synagogues continue to be under attack across our globe. … Some of the recent attacks that we’ve seen are what I call game changers.”

Ferrell worked to make sure church leaders and worshipers are aware of their rights, as well as knowing what actions to take to prevent violent crime.

“Faith-based events and houses of worship, such as churches, synagogues and mosques, are inherently welcoming,” said Ferrell.

To illustrate, he cited roadside marquees, posts on social media and newspaper advertisements.

But with these open invitations for newcomers, how can churches legally shield their members from those who wish to do harm?

Ferrell said churches, synagogues and other places of worship are private organizations with First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly.

“You have the right to not permit those on your property who want to disturb your assemblage, destroy your property, frighten or do harm to your worshipers or their personal property,” he said.

Fortunately, there are steps to take that can reduce risks and provide safe faith-based gatherings.

Ferrell said that crime is a result of three factors: desire, ability and opportunity. Desire and ability are hard factors to counter, but vigilant, observant and outspoken churchgoers can remove the opportunity for perpetrators of violent crimes.

The biggest thing, Ferrell said, is to make sure that members and staff speak up when they notice something is different or suspicious. This is part of a trademarked campaign, “If you see something, say something.”

“Since ‘See something, say something,’ … our calls have gone up,” he said. “Is it aggravating sometimes? Yeah. … But guess what? It’s amazing how much crime reduces when people will actually talk.”

Further points from Tuesday included suggestions for security teams: congregation members trained to address medical emergencies, natural disasters and other crisis situations.

Suggested security measures for these teams include background checks for workers that interact with children or handle money, check-in systems, emergency action plans, investments in defibrillators and more.

A major point of discussion was a church’s decision whether to allow concealed handguns on their property.

If a site is marked as not permitting concealed weapons, only certified law enforcement officers are allowed to carry weapons there.

Ferrell’s own church is marked as such. While some members have complained, he said, the policy could prevent people from being accidentally shot or being mistaken as a perpetrator in an event of a mass shooting.

It is important, he said, to discuss plans and policies with attorneys and insurance agents.

“Do you want to be a sheep, or do you want to be a sheepdog?” said Farrell. “… The wolf is there to hurt you, to cause havoc, to take your children, to tear up your place. … You need to be a sheepdog.”

Comments

Elections

Republicans on defense in state congressional races

Coronavirus

As officials face second wave of COVID-19, some resisting steps to curb virus

Business

Biz Roundup: Spalding wins state Executive of the Year award for work as Chamber president

Coronavirus

State health officials ease shutdown for church that had 181 COVID-19 cases

News

South Carolina tribe presents casino plan for Kings Mountain

News

Rockingham County ordered to reopen voting site

Racing

Michael Jordan’s NASCAR team partners with Joe Gibbs, Toyota

News

Zeta-caused landslide creates 90-mile detour in Mitchell, McDowell counties

BREAKING NEWS

Rowan County banking icon and community catalyst Paul Fisher dies

Coronavirus

State reports 20 COVID-19 cases at Rockwell Christian School, outbreak at Brightmoor Nursing Center

China Grove

Southern Rowan Christmas Parade to go on with COVID-19 safety measures in place

Local

Cress named Rowan County Emergency Services chief

Crime

Blotter: Two vehicles stolen after being left running

Nation/World

Six dead as Zeta soaks Gulf Coast and Southeast

Elections

Black Lives Matter signs will remain up at Carrboro polling site

Nation/World

Hackers snag $2.3 million from Wisconsin Republican Party

China Grove

In Senate race, Ford doubles cash on hand; Townsend spends $10,000 in House campaign

Elections

Two who attended rally for Trump in Gastonia test positive for COVID-19

Elections

Storm hinders Tillis events; Cunningham campaign activities remain quiet

Local

Trump-supporting organization to have downtown ‘Trump Train Parade’

Local

Spencer planning Christmas festivities for Dec. 12

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man charged with removing electronic ankle monitor

Coronavirus

County’s rate of tests returning positive continues to decrease, still above 7%

BREAKING NEWS

UPDATED: Three charged in connection with drive-by shooting, vehicle pursuit