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Churches labeled next soft target

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By SAM HATCHERThe Wilson Post

If your church hasn’t yet developed or considered organizing a security team, now may be the time to do so, according to Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe.

Ashe told a Lebanon civic group recently that “places of worship” are likely the “next soft targets” for strikes of violence.

He cautioned, while many are concerned about church robberies, that the real threat may come from within the church.

He said churches should look closely at security procedures, appoint security committees and be aware of issues that may pose security threats.

 “Churches need a plan” for evacuation in case of a fire or for other emergencies, Ashe said adding that “these can be very basic procedures but they are measures that need to be discussed.”

For the next couple of months the sheriff is hosting a series of safety seminars for churches. He’s encouraging those with an interest in this topic to call his office and participate in the programs that are currently being scheduled.

 “Churches need to be able to appropriately assess certain threat levels,” he said noting that in many cases the threat may come from within.

He said a threat of violence in a church can come from several different sources.

Ashe said churches should recognize and be aware of members who may be experiencing certain domestic conflicts such as divorce or child custody battles, and also should recognize disagreements between members who are struggling with bad business relationships or others within the church who may be dealing with severe emotional issues.

Any of these issues, he said, could cause or be responsible for a threatening situation in church.

Ashe said these are just some of the reasons a church should begin discussions about security.

CEO Sam Hatcher may be contacted at shatcher@wilsonpost.com.

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