The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) hosted an active shooter training for all Fayette County churches Monday at the Heritage Memorial Church.
Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said that about 200 people showed up for the training at the Washington Court House church.
Jack Anders led the presentation on how to incorporate ALICE training into churches. Local school systems use the ALICE training, and Anders is the safety coordinator for the Miami Trace Local Schools. The ALICE acronym stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.”
Stanforth said 21 churches were represented at the training and included pastors, board members and clergy.
“All the churches are encouraged to have some type of safety plan in place and what we are offering is our services to assist them in facilitating their own safety plan. Each church is gong to be different in what they want to see planned,” said Stanforth.
He said numerous questions were raised during the training event: Should people be armed in church? What policies and guidelines should be written? What is the protocol for moving the elderly and children to safety? How much security should there be? Do you lock all of the doors?
Stanforth said for many of those who came for the training, a big question was whether or not people should be armed in the church. Stanforth said the sheriff’s office does not make that recommendation for individual churches as to whether or not they should have members in church armed.
“If the church decides they want certain people to be armed in the facility, then they can make sure those people comply with the church’s policies and procedures,” said Stanforth. “We discourage everyone from coming into the church armed. If they want to have some people come into the church armed, they have to have some policies and guidelines on what they can and cannot do.”
Stanforth said the active shooter scenario was not the sole purpose of the training Monday, and explained that the point was to encourage churches to have a plan for any type of critical incident, whether it be a fire, medical emergency or weather disaster.
Once an individual church decides to work with the sheriff’s office, Stanforth said the sheriff’s office will do a security and safety check. The sheriff’s office check will incorporate building zoning safety and security requirements, said Stanforth, to ensure that the church, in making a security decision, does not compromise everyone’s safety in some other way.
“Now it’s up to the individual churches that wish to pursue this. If they wish us to help them with a safety plan, they will be able to contact deputy sheriff Monty Coe for further instructions and he will coordinate with Jack Anders to set it up with the churches,” said Stanforth.
There is no time limit for churches who would like to become involved with creating a plan with the sheriff’s office, said Stanforth.
“Many of them already have plans in place that we have invited them to sit down with us to go over it. We review what they have in hand or make suggestions. If they have absolutely nothing, we can perhaps provide them with the resources to do it,” said Stanforth.
Stanforth added that the idea to coordinate ALICE with the churches had been a topic on his agenda for awhile.
“It’s all about communication. This was just the time to do it,” said Stanforth.
According to www.alicetraining.com, classes provide preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE Training option based tactics have become the accepted response, versus the traditional “lockdown only” approach.
Record-Herald reporter Martin Graham contributed to this report.
Contact Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton and sending a message.