Law Enforcement, Churches Train To Prevent Crime - WSPA.com

Law Enforcement, Churches Train To Prevent Crime

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Church leaders and law enforcement agencies from across the state gathered in Greer Thursday for a church safety training session.

Capt. Chris Cowan of the Richland County Sheriff's Department says it's important to take steps now, to prevent future crimes.

"Churches are in the business of protecting their flock, but how do they protect themselves?" Capt. Cowan explained.

Peter and Sandra Dahlin attended the session from St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ninety Six.

"We learned that we have room for improvement," Sandra explained. "It is so hard, but in the day that we live in now, we have to think about and we have the responsibility to do that."

"You have to plan accordingly and have a mission statement literally in place for the what-ifs that could happen," Peter said.

It happens across the country and even in our own backyard.

In August, officials say a gunman opened fire in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin - killing six, before turning the gun on himself.

In March of 2012 in Spartanburg County, deputies say an armed man kicked down the door of an Upstate church and threatened the congregation.

"When you have an incident that involves a church, whether it's locally or nationally, or internationally, it brings that heightened sense of awareness," Capt. Cowan said.

That awareness goes beyond the major incidents. Even more common crimes like theft and burglary can happen on God's ground.

Matthew Quinton, with Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company, says there are simple changes churches can make to prevent that theft.

"Copper theft has been the bane of many insurance carrier's existence and churches are extremely vulnerable to that," he explained.

Quinton says - churches' insurance policies will pay for the loss, but they still have to deal with the inconvenience.

"We had cases of churches not having Easter services last year," said Quinton of the copper thefts. "Can you imagine having a wedding in the summer in South Carolina without heating and air? So it can be problematic."

Deputies say any changes from adding lighting on church grounds to changing church policies on how they handle certain incidents, can make a difference. 

The South Carolina Sheriff's association and Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company sponsored this workshop. They plan on hosting many more of these across the state.

 

 

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