Local Churches Take Precautions, Tighten Security

Thursday, September 16th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

With the recent shootings at a church in Fort Worth, local church leaders have upgraded the security of their churches in the past few years. But the recent violence in Texas has many church leaders wanting to do more. A Broken Arrow pastor was forced to beef up security due to recent break-ins. The News on Six talked with church leaders to see what are doing to try and prepare for the unexpected.

The doors are locked tight all week at the Forest Ridge Baptist Church in Broken Arrow. Pastor Mack Mills says recent burglaries caused him to beef up security. He added cameras and an alarm system. "Our doors are locked," he said. "You are watched over a monitor as you come down the sidewalk for the protection of our secretary." Mills says his church is small and he didn't want to take such drastic measures, but he wants to protect the people who work at the building and come to the church to worship.

Larry Johnson is the security director at Rhema Bible Church and a consultant to several church leaders in Oklahoma. He says everyone should upgrade security and be as prepared as possible for the unexpected. Johnson says start with church members. "Have a very efficient group of ushers in your church that are trained to spot the unusual situation," he said. "The abnormal situation." Johnson says he's not trying to give the impression that churches aren't safe. He feels they are.

Lonnie Latham is the executive director of the Tulsa Metro Baptist Association. He says people shouldn't be frightened when they're in church. "I would think we're as safe as any other open assembly area that you would have, whether it's a school or a mall," he said.

Mills says he believes his church is well protected. He says he wants to play it safe while making everyone feel welcome.