Huge demand for CMPD house of worship safety workshops

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - With recent shootings at churches in Charleston and in Texas, religious leaders are being forced to create action plans for active shooters.

"On a national average police take about five minutes to get there, so what are you doing to prepare?," said CMPD Lt. Steve Huber. "Once it is happening to you, you will revert back to instincts if you have nothing else."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are offering safety seminars for any religious leaders or any houses of worship.

"I would say we are at about 30 calls a day now and it is almost all house of worship requests," said Lt. Huber.

CMPD had two full workshops on Tuesday with well over 100 church members at each one.

"They are recognizing that they have a gigantic hole in our plan right now that we have to fill," said Lt. Huber.

Police talking about the best practices in specific situations, but also things that may be forgotten about like types of lighting, security cameras, door locks, doors, places of entrance and hired security.

"Do you want all those 200 people to be reacting on their instincts? Or do you want those 200 people to be reacting on a plan that they practiced for two days," said Lt. Huber.

"It is really preparing the congregation to be responsive instead of being an easy soft target to be better prepared," said Pastor Leon Threatt, of Christian Faith Assembly. Threatt says his congregation has a plan in place but will make improvements. "Going away from this class, I go away with more tools to reevaluate some of the things we have already put in place."

Not only were religious leaders learning how to develop a plan, church goers were also learning how to react if they ever found themselves in a active shooter situation.

"You have to wonder if you reach out this person are they going to come in and change their ways or are they going to come in and attack us," said Elaine Baker, with Greater Life Community Church.

Many places of worship are having police help them prepare an action plan "We are actually implementing it now and working on it. The reason we are here is to get some ideas of what we should do," said Paul Dawson of Grace AME Zion Church. "It is more prevalent now so yes, we have to be concerned."

The safety seminars are free and open to any house of worship. CMPD says they will come present the seminar to a congregation as well.

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