Several years ago during a training event in Ohio, I noticed a sign posted on the door warning anyone wishing to do harm to those inside the church that they were armed and prepared for violence. This church didn’t mess around. The team was very serious, well trained and had capabilities to meet a violent threat like those in Tennessee and Texas these past two months.
They were paying attention. They understood we are living in a new world were the entitled and aggrieved believe they have an obligation to share their fury.
Violent men have taken away safety in restaurants, malls, parks, street venues, concert halls, stores and the last sacred place we had left – the local church. Three extremely violent attacks against Charleston, Nashville, Sutherland Springs have left churches wondering what they should do about securing the flock, protecting the children, and denying the killers a high body count.
Some have decided to have small teams dedicated to church safety, some are armed and some are not. Local Tampa news stations have couched the discussion in one particular church’s posting of a large sign alerting those intent on killing not to bother because they are alert, ready and willing to defend and protect life.
The first paragraph tells you how they feel about it, “Members of a Florida church congregation will not turn the other cheek to those who might wish them harm. They are armed and ready to retaliate.”
Retaliation sounds so … evil. A word they do not believe in, yet intimate of this local church bold enough to tell people where they stand.
They send reporters to report on the devastation, the capture grieving families and go on and on about nobody being able to do anything to stop it – until they realize an armed individual from outside the church drove off the attacker by DEFENDING life. Yet, they still believe nothing could have been done. The word they should have used was not retaliation but in defense of innocent life.
I would prefer it if we could go to church and not worry about a masked, aggrieved, angry coward scheming to kill me and my family and those within my church.
I can’t anymore. Where I used to enjoy attending church as a respite from my job as a police officer, the days of praying with both my eyes closed is over. One eye will remain open.
I cannot let my guard down anywhere because of our culture of death – the true evil – is allowed to go unpunished in a country that has forgotten justice and what it looks like. A growing number of citizens do not fear the law any longer.
How I Think Churches Should Prepare
My focus on active shooter training lately has been on a two pronged approach. Church teams need to begin teaching their fellow congregants, Sunday School teachers, deacons, elders and anyone who attends the church that when they hear what sounds like gunfire, they should treat it as such.
The old information of locking down and waiting to be rescued when a killer is inside a building is out. They need to know the ABCs of Lockdown. They should have the AUTONOMOUS AND AWARE to recognize and have permission to act on their own. Most people feel they need permission from someone to act. People need to be educated that they HAVE permission to act when they hear, sense and feel danger.
Teach them the BARRICADED LOCKDOWN to keep the shooter out, while those inside prepare an action plan to escape. If you have the ability to do so, secure and barricade a door to buy time while you plan to escape the building.
Lastly, teach them how to COUNTER AMBUSH and ESCAPE if confronted by an armed person. This means getting aggressive, disabling the attacker, and if possible disarming him. If unarmed with improvised weapons and technique. If armed and with a clear shot, defend themselves with a firearm, and stop his aggressive action. ESCAPE must be taught. Most people will stand frozen, they will dive under a table, and they will wait to be rescued.
In Sutherland Springs, this is how the killer amassed such a large number of deaths. He went unchallenged until he tried to escape.
Of course, I think this should be trained and understood by everyone in attendance. First your team, then the staff, then the congregation. Some will be able to act and some will not. If you are only training for use of a firearm in this situation, I fear you will be surprised when you quickly realize in a crowded area that getting a shot off will be extremely difficult without harming an innocent person.
What I have noticed since I have been training teams to do both, is a faster and safer response to active shooter. The goal is to limit the killer’s ability to amass a high number of victims, and the fastest way to do it is to counter ambush with aggression and violence of action.
Here are a few videos from Glen’s recent training event near Columbus, Ohio. In this event we were focused upon counter ambushing, escaping, and taking control of the subject. I wanted to demonstrate that guns were not always the answer – sometimes it wasn’t prudent to shoot. In future events, we will work on what to do immediately after. Those armed members will be taught about setting up a perimeter and waiting for additional threats and guiding responding law enforcement to the shooter.
We only had a limited number of hours to teach this class, so the new skills were developed rather quickly (armed and unarmed counter ambush tactics with control tactics)
In attendance were the team leader and their firearms trainer, here is what they had to say about it:
We may have been able to survive or have survivors after a situation because we have always had some individually talented and skilled members. Now we are being equipped to avoid or conquer the situation quickly. Quickly analyze and take immediate action (with appropriate ferocity of action). Secondly, this is the first training that has unified the response and developed synergy to thwart an attack, we acted as a TEAM not several individuals. I think any church leader who willingly avoids training and equipping congregational “sheepdogs” is taking on a moral responsibility that is of huge proportion. If church security is not necessary then neither are fire extinguishers, AED’s or door locks. Glen’s training gets you to a point of reality by common sense discussion with no intimidation and provides basic training that I witnessed being performed successfully by 19 year olds and 74 year old alike. B.C.
Before the training I wasn’t certain I could end an attack, but thought that I thought that I probably could. The two lessons I took away: Immediate and decisive action increases the chance for success, and firearms are not as good an option as I had originally thought. I would tell church leaders that Glen brings experience based training that is appropriate for civilian church security teams. Additionally, Glen provides church related training that helps the team address likely scenarios that they may encounter while performing their duties. F.S.
Would you consider hosting an ABC Lockdown Event for your local church community? In these events I train your team to help your congregation understand their role during a violent encounter, as well as strategies to quickly stop an active shooter with unarmed and armed responses. Click here to contact.