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Escambia Sheriff's Office To Host Church Security Workshop

Photo via Flickr// Karen Dorsett

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a special conference Thursday, on “Security in the Place of Worship.”

In the wake of the shooting that killed nine worshipers inside Emanuel AME Church, fires at six other churches with African-American ties have been reported in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.

“The incident in Charleston is a sad case. However, those types of incidents have been happening in different parts of the country for over the last decade, so it’s nothing new from a law enforcement perspective,” said ECSO Deputy Delarian Wiggins, who’s organizing the conference.

He says the idea for church security meetings actually originated a few years ago, adding that over the past year or so, the Escambia Sheriff’s Office has held similar workshops.

Ministers, Vestry Members, Deacons, and other concerned church members are invited to the conference, at ECSO’s Main Office on West Leonard Street. Wiggins says they’ll be discussing various topics, including vigilance on the part of parishioners.

“Even sitting down and asking some of the members, ‘Do you have any law enforcement or security officers that go to your church? Do you have any nurses or doctors that go to your church?’” said Wiggins. “Once you identify those particular people, and just sitting down and coming up with an operations plan in the event an emergency happens, how would you respond?”

Lessons learned from previous such workshops will be brought forward for use in the Thursday conference. Those include things that are seen through the eyes of law enforcement, which congregants perhaps have not seen or cannot see. Wiggins is also one of three ECSO personnel who are certified Crime Prevention Practitioners.

While the recent focus has been on the shootings in Charleston, churches of all stripes face a host of other potential criminal activity, not necessarily violent, but devastating in their own right.

“Churches are now the most, and I hate to say it, one of the most profitable places,” said Wiggins. “And there’s a lot of cash flow that runs in and out of particular churches. You have to have security measures in place.”

Once again “Security in the Place of Worship” is set for 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on West Leonard Street. It’s free, and more information is available by calling 436-9705.