Middletown police train clergy for active shooter situations

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Sgt. Sam Allen said clergy should get churchgoers in a mindset that a shooting could happen at anytime.

Allen and other Middletown police officers trained over 70 priests and clergy Friday on how to respond in the event of a mass shooting.

The ALICE training comes less than a week after a man shot and killed 26 people and injured 20 others in a Texas church.

Jim Martin and Elliot Mayhon attended the training to enhance security plans they've created for the Towne Boulevard Church of God over a year ago.

The plan covers everything from shootings to weather to medical issues, Mayhon said.

Martin said the team of volunteers came together because they feel responsible for the safety of the congregation.

“We can be the first responders for the police department,” Martin said. “By the time they get here it may already be over. It happens that quick.

Allen said ALICE training equips clergy with the tools they would need to slow down a gunman.

“If there's any resistance offered to them - whether it's a locked door - or the light's off, something like that, they're going to move on,” Allen said.

Chief Rodney Muterspaw has personal experience with these situations. He said his daughter fled when a gunman held up the place she works at.  

Why did my daughter run? You know why? Because Officer Highly has told her over and over, ‘Get out. Don't stand there and be a victim,’” Muterspaw said.

Officers also said it’s important to limit the number of entrances and to practice as if it will happen. 

Pastor Keith Brooks said he plans to make sure his congregation is aware of all exits and how to secure doors in the church.

Martin said he took away ideas that he plans to implement immediately.

“Number one, we're going to have a better communication with the City of Middletown Police Department on the way we operate,” he said.

Mayhon said they will also consider reducing the amount of entrances on Sundays.

Many of the clergy said they plan to invite police to their facilities to check out their safety plans to ensure they would keep everyone safe in the event of a shooting.

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