Columbia County, Ga. (WJBF) – Church safety. It’s a topic that’s stayed top of mind as Dylann Roof was recently convicted of gunning down 9 parishioners in a Charleston church. So would your house of worship be prepared if tragedy struck? Thanks to one local sheriff’s office and a new app – that answer may soon be “yes”.
“The places where we have normally considered safe refuges..our schools, our homes, our churches…are no longer safe,” said Todd Coleman, reserve deputy for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and co-creator of the SHOW app.
It’s the grim reality that our country and leaders of houses of worship are starting to see.
“We have a safety team, medical team, concealed weapons team,” Pastor Eric Kennedy, Stevens Creek Church.
At Stevens Creek Church in Columbia County, Pastor Eric Kennedy leads their safety team. A team that is now leading the charge in training other churches on a new app called Safeguarding Houses of Worship also known as “SHOW”.
“It allows you to start thinking about those things that you might have to deal with one day,” said Coleman.
Todd Coleman is a reserve deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office – but he’s also one of the masterminds behind creating the app that’s being promoted across the country by the National Institute of Justice.
So here’s how it works… a church downloads the app, answers about 150 questions, and then an emergency plan is created.
“It puts forth a variety of situations that you might not normally think about. But it’s designed for the church in Anchorage, Alaska as well as the one in Columbia County, Georgia,” said Coleman.
“Once law enforcement arrives it is helpful to have information from the app that the arriving deputies can see, and that will help greatly to whatever response that threat is,” said Lt. Dan Hendricks, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
They say when seconds count help is minutes away, so having a plan in place can make all the difference.
“After Charleston, I knew. It’s relevant, you have to do this now. It’s something you have to consider. Whether you’re a Baptist church, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, Church of God. It’s prevalent, you have to do it,” said Pastor Kennedy.
To learn more call:
Lt. Dan Hendricks, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office – (706) 504-7146
Pastor Eric Kennedy, Stevens Creek Church – (706) 863-7002