Law enforcement encourages churches to make security plans

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - More than 75 churches came together to make security plans to help keep their congregations safe. A recent church shooting in Texas raised concern and awareness about security.

The FBI and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department gathered church leaders to discuss safety.

"Most communities in our area are safe. However, there is that outside chance," said Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun, LCSD.

Law enforcement wants churches to be ready for any heart-stopping moment, even if there's only a slim chance.

"We talked about the Mississippi Protection Act, which was passed last year. It allows churches to set up security teams of armed individuals," said Calhoun.

The church shooting in Texas, that killed 26 people and hurt 20 others, is the reason local churches and agencies are on high alert.

"Without a plan chaos usually reins," said Calhoun. "Even with a plan chaos can rein, but at least it can be organized chaos."

Instead of waiting until something does happen, have a plan in place to prevent it.

"You have people on the outside monitoring parking lots, who's approaching, who's coming up to their building. Having a process in place and people in place to initial lock-downs," said Calhoun.

The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department and the FBI talked to preachers and pastors about Run, Hide, Fight: the response people should have to protect themselves.

"First try to run away if they can. If not, can they actively hide? Can they get in some spot where they can prevent someone from getting to them? Then in the worst case scenario, if they have to, is to actually fight," said Calhoun.

Educating yourself and having a plan is what is going to help keep you safe. That's what law enforcement is trying to get across.

"People are responsible for their own safety," said Calhoun.