PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Following recent national events, like the church shooting in Texas, churches are trying to prepare for the worst.
“It could hit close to home as well as it could far away, so that’s the reason we always want to be ready and protect the church," said Michael Campbell, member of First Baptist Church of Prestonsburg.
Campbell was one of the first people to jump on board when the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office announced a new training initiative that focuses on heightening awareness and safety in local churches.
“The Sheriff feels like it’s important for the churches in the area to be prepared for this because, unfortunately, in the world that we live in, it’s happening," said deputy Kevin Thacker.
FCSO is hosting training modules, using their crisis rehearsal simulator, to give church members an idea of what an active shooter situation could look like in their sanctuaries.
“This training is going to benefit our safety team, by really running some scenarios that you can’t really do without some kind of training like this," said Campbell.
But it is not just about shooting. There are other techniques discussed to help raise awareness and provide resources for keeping churches safe.
“Not trying to keep people out of church. They want to invite anyone that wants to come into the church," said Thacker. "They understand, though, that they need to keep their churches safe. They need to keep the congregation safe. They need to keep the children safe that come to church."
The idea, according to deputies, is to create more awareness and proactivity when strangers are present. Thacker said churches may opt to start guarding their entrances as well. Not to isolate newcomers, but to protect the congregation as a whole.
But, he said, that requires having people who are willing to protect their church families.
“It lets them see a little of the chaos that can ensue. And it lets them know that they have to have a couple of people that's gonna stay focused," Thacker said. "They have to have a couple of people that's willing to take care of a threat.”
Deputies say Sheriff John Hunt is passionate about the protection initiative, adding that he has even encouraged deputies to park their cruisers at their churches on Sunday morning to create a deterrent for those who might wish people harm.
The department says it is all about going the extra mile to keep the community safe.
The training courses are not formal, classification-type courses. They are meant to open up the conversation and teach some tricks of the trade. Classes are available for the next few weeks. Anyone with an interest is encouraged to contact Sheriff Hunt or Jessica Frazier at (606) 886-8965.