Area churches invited to active shooter seminars

Published 12:35 am Sunday, January 7, 2018


VIDALIA — From the Charleston shooting in South Carolina to the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn., Americans have seen religious institutions across the nation turned into crime scenes.

In the wake of the last major attack — the Nov. 5 massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 dead and dozens wounded — many churches have begun designating security officers who stand watch at chapel doors during services.

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The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office will hold three seminars next week in which attendees will develop an emergency action plan in the event of an active shooter or attack.

“We hope and pray this doesn’t happen,” CPSO Chief Deputy David Hedrick said. “But it is better to be prepared for the worst.”

The Safety in the Place of Worship Seminar will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the Concordia Parish Community Center.

The seminar is free, and all churches on both sides of the river are invited, but Hedrick requested interested members contact him at 318-338-5231.

Each church may bring up to five members, Hedrick said.

Currently more than 100 attendees are signed up for the workshop, and Hedrick said the community center could hold approximately 200 more.

Attendees will learn emergency first aid, threat assessment and management, trauma management, team development and drills among other facets of emergency response.

Several branches of the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office will help instruct the church leaders, from the narcotics team to the investigations department.

“Although we do not anticipate an incident of this type within Concordia Parish; we feel that this seminar will educate all who attend, giving them a plan of action so that they will have the ability to worship God while feeling secure,” Hedrick said.

Hedrick said members of the sheriff’s office had seen similar seminars elsewhere and that he wanted to provide the same kind of security to his home parish.

“We have seen so many churches devastated by attacks,” Hedrick said. “We want to help keep our churches safe.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the seminars will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.