GREENSBORO, NC—Police are investigating a larceny incident that happened inside a classroom at Lawndale Baptist Church.
WFMY News 2 is asking questions about where to draw the line between sanctuary and school security after Greensboro police told us there was a robbery incident at the preschool at Lawndale Baptist Church.
Police told WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford that two preschool teachers at Lawndale Baptist had their wallets stolen. Police have a suspect they're looking for.
According to police, two wallets, IDs, nearly $700 in cash, and several credit cards were stolen between two preschool teachers at Lawndale Baptist. Police told us by the time the teachers realized what happened and called their banks, the credit cards had already been used.
WFMY received an e-mail from a concerned church member who told us the suspect asked to use the bathroom at the church office but made his way into the school. The e-mail went on to say, "The school allowed a criminal to make the decision Monday, steal a purse or harm a child. He should have never had that choice."
Today, a church administrator with Lawndale Baptist sent WFMY News 2 a list of their security measures. It said:
1. Security cameras
2. Locked doors
3. Staff posted at entrances
4. We employ off duty Greensboro Police officers weekly
Moving forward this incident has prompted us to review our procedures. Our Church has a team of childhood education professionals, law enforcement professionals and administrative professionals. This team will all be working together to evaluate and review all safety and security procedures.
In another email, Lawndale Baptist Church said:
We take the safety of our children and teachers as our top priority. We do have extensive security and policies in place.
First Baptist Church, another church in Greensboro with a preschool walked us through their security measures. They use a "fob key" to access any entrance into the school. Even the parents have a fob that only works during school hours. They also have security cameras.
WFMY asked what they'd do if someone asked to use the bathroom.
Rosemary Kellam, Director of Operations at First Baptist said, "We'd let them. We'd let them. We usually try to keep an eye on them, make sure that they don't venture off into other parts of the building and get lost."
First Presbyterian Church, another church with a school also sent WFMY News 2 an extensive list of their security measures:
• Our doors are magnetically locked, and parents and teachers have Key Fobs assigned to them to allow entry during specific hours.
• We have full color digital security cameras in all of our hallways, classrooms, and even on all playgrounds. Cameras record both audio and video and can be replayed, saved, and burned at least 2 months in the past. Cameras stay up all of the time so we can see them on multiple computers throughout the campus. We also have "buzzed in" access to those we can see and know.
• Teachers always carry professional walkie talkies everywhere they go on the campus and must call in when they are leaving their classroom, how many children they have, their destination, and repeat this information once they arrive. Radios are connected to church support staff members and all other teachers throughout the campus. While outside if there is anyone we suspect should not have business on our campus the teachers alert church support staff by radio and take measures to keep everyone safe, such as coming inside to a safe place right away.
• We have an extensive Emergency Preparedness Plan which is given to parents, posted in every classroom, taken with teachers everywhere they go on the campus, and assigns specific teachers tasks related to emergencies. We have a specific plan for most every type of emergency and teachers practice drills for safety. Teachers also carry emergency information for parents and first aid kits with them everywhere they go. The church also has an Emergency Preparedness Plan for Sundays and days when school is not in session.
• We keep abreast of what is happening in the community through the internet and smart phone alerts. Whenever there has been an alert within several miles of the school, we call the police to verify our security and take action such as locking down when necessary. We have done this twice in the last 2 months when there has been suspicion as far away as the A&T campus. Parents are notified of our action so they know their children are safe.
• When someone approaches us for money or food we always tell them about our Hot Dish and Hope Ministry, which feeds anyone needing a meal on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. We then give them directions to Urban Ministries downtown for any needs they may have. We alert our church support staff of their presence on our campus so they can monitor that they leave.
We are always learning how to do things better and update our Emergency Preparedness Plan every August. We use resources in the community, such as the police and fire department to help us know the best course of action for various situations.