First Baptist Church will host a course in February that will train church security teams on how to handle an active shooter situation if tragedy were to happen. Training will be intense and there are rules and requirements to take the course. Those who sign up must have a concealed carry permit and must have permission from their pastor. They must be able to shoot well and have a handgun that is large enough.
In November of 2017, a gunman dressed in black entered a small Texas church and gunned down Sunday morning parishioners, killing 26 people. Since then, some churches have opted to train chosen members of their congregations to be prepared for the worst possible situations.
Sonny Herrington, Police Officer Standard Training active shooter instructor, said an active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
"It would be a bad situation no matter what," he said. "First thing I always teach is how to get out of the bad situation. There must be a plan of escape. Look for exits and cover if needed."
Herrington said this church security training course was taught in Ouachita Parish and over 250 people from different churches attended.
North Monroe at Bastrop Campus Pastor Kevin Crim said he is interested in the class because it is best to have a plan in a worst case scenario.
"Having a plan is important," he said. "I grew up in church my whole life and never thought we would have to worry about something like this. But I think it is best to have a plan, should something happen."
Herrington said the course is not for everyone, there are rules and standards that must be met to qualify.
"Those who sign up must first have a concealed carry permit and have written permission from their pastor," he said. "I will be teaching shooting from a law enforcement standpoint. People who take the course will have to be real familiar with how to shoot a handgun.
"They will have to shoot at greater distances and show proficiency. They will be shooting at moving objects. They will have to shoot at least a 9-millimeter with a 4-inch sight radius. Smaller guns will not qualify. I expect a lot of failures because of the elderly population. The course of fire is much greater and harder for the average person."
First Baptist Church Pastor Richard Gambill said having a prepared church security team will help to make people feel safe.
"One of the things that churches need to be mindful over is security, especially with everything that has happened over the past few years," he said. "We want people at our church to feel safe and secure. We pray that nothing ever happens, but preparation helps ease worry and fear. When a church is proactive it helps to ease that fear."
Gambill said members of his church security team that are able and comfortable with taking the courses will be doing so in February.
"Not every one is comfortable or physically able to take the course," he said. "We are trying to get those who have their concealed permit already to take it."
Herrington said the training will begin in a classroom setting, discussing laws, liabilities and tactics.
"There will be a lot of liability talked about and rules of engagement," he said. "Those taking the course need to realize that they are responsible for their bullet no matter where it hits (if they had to fire their gun). We will discuss civil and criminal ramifications."
Classes will be held Saturday, Feb. 10 at First Baptist Church in Bastrop. For more information or to sign up, call Sonny Herrington at 318.669.0314 or Sara Hawkins at 318.547.7933.