Should places of worship prepare themselves for violent attacks?

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 06:12:50-05

CINCINNATI -- Mass shootings, now a regular staple of the American news diet, are only massive because they target places we gather in crowds, such as schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and religious buildings. 

As businesses and city governments develop contingency plans in case an event like the Las Vegas shooting unfolds around them, parishioners such as Mark Ewing want their churches to be prepared for the worst, too.

"I don't want something bad to happen to the people I care about in a place where you're supposed to feel said," said Ewing, who attends Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Anderson Township. "It happens very quick, without any warning, and it's usually a fairly devastating event."

Carl Chinn is the president of the Faith-Based Security Network, a newly founded organization meant to teach parishioners and faith leaders to be prepared for attacks such as the Sutherland Springs shooting, which claimed the lives of 26 congregants at a Texan Baptist church, and the Charleston shooting, which killed nine people attending Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"We consider an attack like that a deadly triangle," he said. "A killer has to have intention, capacity and opportunity. The only thing we have power over as a congregation is the opportunity."

To that end, he encourages faith groups to invest in emergency preparedness strategies and equipment such as security cameras.

He emphasized that most incidents these groups will experience will not be deadly mass attacks -- they will be medical emergencies and encounters with unruly individuals. Preparedness is just as vital in those situations, he said.

"99 percent of the time, you'll be de-escalating some kind of anger or fixing some kind of bump or bruise," he said.