THE MIKE FILES: Churches stepping up security

Church leaders are getting even more serious about their security and safety teams, adding members, and often turning to experts for advanced tactics.

Posted: Oct 5, 2017 7:47 AM
Updated: Oct 5, 2017 7:54 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the wake of the Las Vegas Massacre, and church shootings almost too numerous to count, houses of worship in Northeast Mississippi are sharpening their security and safety efforts. In this Mike Files report, WTVA’s Mike Russell introduces us to a man who’s made it his mission to help keep the flock safe.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The American and Christian flags flying at Hope Church Tupelo are half-staff in honor of those who died in Las Vegas. Here, church leaders are mindful of their commitment to keep their members safe. 

"If someone was able to get up into the crow's nest with an automatic weapon, they can just massacre your congregation."

Those are the unsettling words of Steve Carter, a church security expert. He's at Hope Church, doing a security walk-through with church leaders. The "crow's news," as he puts it, is the upstairs room where graphics and videos run - a spiritual "projection booth," if you will. Walking the church campus with lead pastor Scooter Noland and administrative pastor Jim Nielsen, they amble down the church's wide hallways, stopping at the bathrooms. Carter points to them.

"If you've got somebody hiding and they're waiting for a child to come in, you need to be aware of that." The two pastors agree readily.

Later, we chat with Hope's security team leader. For tactical reasons, we can't use his real name. We'll call him "Bob."

"Churches used to not even lock their doors," says Bob. "People automatically felt safe. But the way society's changed, now that's so - and we have to be prepared. We want to be offensive instead of defensive."

That's why Carter is here, a man who trains church teams to confront even the most dire threats. Ultimately, Steve says, the mission of church security is to protect the flock without being noticed.

"Church security's different from anything else because you have so many innocent people around," he says, adding that just having team members packing heat is not enough.
 
"A security team has to be organized - and have a plan on how they're going to respond to any given threat."

"We've gone to great lengths to be prepared,' says Nielsen. "We're not just a bunch of guys walkin' around watching, we are well-trained."
 
"We're very prepared," echoes Noland. "I feel very confident in the policies, the procedures, and the personnel that we have in place. But you know, the mistake is in feeling like you've got it all together -- and also, the opposite side of that is 'this'll never happen here.'"

Which is why Hope's team, and many like it do what they have to so to stay sharp.

Ultimately, if someone intending to do harm reaches Hope's worship center, they'll have penetrated at least two other layers of security. Leaders pray that never happens, knowing they’ve been good shepherds of the resources God’s given to them to protect His children.
 
If you'd like to know more about Steve Carter, visit his website at DefensiveHandgunInstructionMS.com.
 
FINAL NOTES: Hope's security team has 13 members, a number increasing frequently. Carter, in the meantime, is training new church teams every week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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