How churches are learning to respond to potential threats

Updated: Apr. 4, 2019 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Places of worship are supposed to be safe places, but recent headlines show sometimes they’re not.

Even churches can be targets of violence.

"It’s something that we wake up in the morning and we want to pretend that it’s never going to happen to us,” said Rabbi Levi Weinbaum, Chabad of Alabama.

Last October, 11 people were killed when a gunman opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“Your love and kindness is still there. Your compassion is still there for every single member, for every person that wants to come in. But you have to realize that as a reality out there and you’ve just got to be careful,” said Rabbi Weinbaum.

That was part of the message at Thursday’s threat preparedness workshop in Homewood.

It is put on by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, Infragard and others. This one was geared specifically towards places of worship.

"Unfortunately it happens too often and since we can’t stop it, the best thing we can do, is to prepare churches and organizations to deal with it,” said Kendrick Washington, with Infragard.

By now many people have probably seen the “Run, Hide, Fight” film, that shows people what to do in active shooter situation.

Sessions like the one Thursday cover that response but also focus on advance planning.

"You see what’s going on around the country and around the world as it relates to hate crimes as it relates to attacks on places of worship, and so preparation is key,” said Paul Daymond with the FBI Birmingham office.

Rabbi Weinbaum thinks everyone should prepare for what hopefully will never happen. “You need to have a plan of action for any incident that might come into your building,” he said.

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