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Texas church shooting ramping up local discussion over church safety and security

Posted at 7:48 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 19:48:31-05

As a member of law enforcement, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says Sunday’s shooting kept him on his toes, even as he got ready for church. 

“I actually was even thinking tactically of which off duty gun to wear,” he says. 

He says lately, that feeling of extreme caution is extending into the pulpit. 

“It’s part of the way I think, it’s part of the law law enforcement thinks, but unfortunately now it’s going to have to be the way that pastors and rabbis think,” he says. 

The sheriff says safety of congregations in Martin County was a priority, even before Sunday. 

He says his active shooter unit extends its reach to churches, assessing building safety. 

"We'll look at the doors, the windows, all the ways for people to come and go and we’ll make suggestions,” he says. 

Down in Palm Beach County, Rabbi Barry Silver says Sunday’s shooting has them taking a second look at security. 

“Before anybody could come in, now we take a look at people and we’re pretty careful about who is coming in,” he says. 

Rabbi Silver is hosting an interfaith meeting Tuesday night at 7 at L'Dor Va Dor in Boynton Beach to discuss the issues and concerns.

However, this this man of faith makes it clear - solving the problem will take more than words. 

“If all we have is a prayer, then we have an a prayer. There’s no way we can solve this problem if we’re just going to rely on divine intervention."

Over at Christ Fellowship in Palm Beach Gardens, Head of Security Timothy Miller advises churches around our area on security tactics.

He says the challenge is maintaining the sense of openness that a church provides.

“The purpose of security is not to keep out, it’s to focus and assess those coming in,” Miller says. 

He says you cant discount the power of vigilance.

Christ Fellowship says it’s training it’s staff to be even more alert, from the ushers to the greeters.

For example, Miller says the role of a parking lot attendant is crucial in an active shooter scenario, spotting the problem before it even makes its way through the door.

“If you’re able to identify him quickly, and you’re able to exercise a plan - which is lock down, call, prepare, prepare to do run hide and fight - maybe the outcome could’ve been different.”