Following the tragic incident in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which an active shooter took the lives of 26 people attending church, churches all across the country have begun to evaluate their needs for security.

Church security is not a new issue. In 2017 alone, there were 117 violent deaths on faith-based properties in the United States.

In response to their needs, some area churches contacted the Cowley College criminal justice program and requested assistance from program director Frank Owens.

Owens has met with area churches that requested assistance and prepared an introductory presentation covering topics such as needs assessments, church violence statistics, concealed-carry considerations, creating a safety committee, and crime prevention by environmental design.

In addition to the initial presentation, additional presentations have included an introduction to ALICE training, developed by Cowley College director of campus security and public safety Matt Stone, as well as simulator experiences for church representatives so they can get a feel for the issues surrounding concealed-carry decisions in a church environment.

Pastor Nathan Cook, of GracePointe Assembly of God Church in Winfield, said the ALICE training — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — was beneficial to himself and his security team.

“We wanted to be proactive, so we put a security team together for our church,” Cook said.

“It was beneficial for us to walk through what to do in the event there was an active shooter in our church.”

This information was provided by Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo.