Deputies Help Teach Churches Safety Plans: Randolph County

Randolph County Church Training

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Threats in churches - it's a sad reality that the Randolph County Sheriff's Office is trying to tackle.

"How do we make our services secure? How do we ensure people's safety while they're here?" asks Pastor Keith Hudson at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Asheboro.  For answers, he turns to the Sheriff's Office.

"You have to be mindful these things happen," explains Sergeant Ryan McClelland.

He's part of a team of deputies that go out to churches and other civic groups in the community and work on safety training.

"Domestic violence, evil intent, mental illness and in those regards what a church can be ready for incase they're presented with any of those circumstances," Sgt. McClelland explains. 

Sheriff Robert Graves started this program about a year ago, beginning in January 2017.  So far they've given 40 presentations on safety, but the goal is to work with all 400 of the county's churches.

Sgt. McClelland met with Pastor Hudson and other leadership at Oakhurst Baptist Church earlier this year and now they're working on an emergency response team.

Across the county, the Poplar Ridge Friends Church in Trinity already has one in place.

"We decided to be proactive, instead of reactive," explains David Quay.

Quay is one of two people originally on the church's safety team.  It's now up to more than a dozen people.

"Ushers and greeters are really our first line," Quay explains. "They're the ones that are going to see someone coming into the church that may be acting out of the norm."

And with help from the deputies, they know just what to look for.

"The tactics they know," says Quay. "How bad guys work and all that stuff."

Quay says they now lock side doors during services and keep a watchful eye on the main doors.  They also patrol the parking lot, keeping track of who's coming and going.

"By having us seen outside monitoring the place somebody is going to hopefully pass us up, say that's not an easy place to hit."

It's not a role he ever thought he'd be filling in a church, but now, safety is something he truly believes in.

"Ten years down the line I'm hoping they just say I'm wearing a pair of shoes out walking around out there, you know? That nothing ever happened."

The Sheriff's Office works with all denominations and they also work with other community groups.  The safety presentation and training is free.  If you want to get involved, you can call the Randolph County Sheriff's Office at (336) 318-6699.

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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