NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches-based certified protection professional said there is a “frenzy" of renewed interest in security in the days that follow a church shooting. The founder of Safe to Worship said there are two types of reactions.
“One is, ‘Oh my gosh, how many guns can we now take into our church and how big a caliber can we take?’ The other one is to say, ‘Let’s stop, and let’s respond,’" Hurst explained.
Hurst much prefers the latter beginning with the question, “Where does our net of safety start?”
Safety screenings should begin in the parking lot, Hurst advised, followed by control over entrances.
“Just letting people walk in, just kind of nod at them, and say, ‘Come in’. Those need to go away,” Hurst said.
It is lawful for citizens with a licensed permit to carry for self-defense in church, as long as the church has not posted against it.
Attorney General Ken Paxton is continually charged with the task of reviewing legal options churches have to improve security. Hurst has a suggestion.
“There is a restriction, for instance, that keeps reserve peace officers from taking any paying, off duty job,” the reserve deputy said.
Hurst said churches also need protection in the courtroom.
“Until the state says there will be certain liability limits in a civil suit for any accidental hits, then churches are pretty much, regardless of what the penal code says, they’re out in the wilderness," Hurst explained.
Hurst’s Safe to Worship program never dismisses that church’s first job is ministry, but like a sheepdog, it understands, according to Hurst, “When the wolf comes it is prepared, and it’s game on.”
Robert Hurst said he’s guided over 2,000 parishioners toward a safer church. He said not all follow through with a program, but the concern is renewed with each church shooting event.
Churches have several options to learn more about church security. There’s advice online and through professional companies.
Also, check with local law enforcement. Captain Alton Lenderman with the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office is certified to teach, “Civilian Response To Active Shooter Events.” It’s a curriculum developed by Texas State University’s Alert program.
Captain Alton Lenderman is an instructor, in addition to some deputies.
“It can go anything from going to talking to the employees or narrowing it down to just simply the security people or whoever is assigned for their security team if it’s a church or business to react. So, it’s very flexible on how we do it,” Lenderman said.
Instruction is also offered by the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office.
The programs are free. Just check with your local law enforcement to find a certified instructor in your area.